When people say “I don’t see color” or “I’m colorblind,” what they’re really doing is turning a blind eye to racism. These phrases depreciate the problems that have afflicted US minorities for generations. They’re a cop out for people who feel uncomfortable discussing race relations in America.
These dismissive phrases prevent progress from happening within our society. It fosters an appearance of diversity and tolerance when there isn’t one in reality. We like to pretend that everything is fine on the surface, but when you don’t talk about racism you’re ignoring the issue of color; adding to the suffering of minorities.
In an article by Sean McElwee called “Are Millennials Tolerant Racists?”, McElwee writes: “The millennial generation is still deeply segregated. Racial gaps in employment opportunity, income, education, incarceration and wealth are either stagnant or growing.” With problems like these festering in our society, how can someone not see race?
PBS NewsHour illuminates this struggle in its surveys of Equal Justice and Employment among Blacks and Whites. Given the data, it is evident that race relations are in disarray, as people of color widely disagree with Whites about equal employment and justice. This displays the ignorance of White America, who know little about the discrimination minorities face.
It is not something they can learn, but have to experience first-hand to really understand. The Atlantic ran an article by Adia Harvey Wingfield called “Color Blindness is Counterproductive” that explains how the lives of Whites differ from minorities. “In most social interactions, whites get to be seen as individuals,” Harvey said. “Racial minorities become aware from a young age that people will often judge them as members of their group.”
Unlike the White majority, minorities are necessarily aware of the consequences of being a person of color. They have to maintain a double consciousness: one that is individual and another that relates them to their race. If they forget about their color and the context of a situation, then there can be dire consequences for them.
We like to think of America as a land of opportunity where everyone is free to pursue their dreams, but it isn’t like that. Minorities have to fight hard for what they have and what they want because society is unfair most of the time. Society judges you based on the color of your skin or where you come from. Therefore, when people say that they “don’t see color,” they are adding to the ignorance of racism and perpetuating this discrimination because they diminish the struggles of these minorities.
There is no equality as of now and it is questionable whether there ever will be. As long as White males like Donald Trump control the vast wealth of this country then there is little hope for change under our current system.
However, we can still change. Start changing the way you talk or address the topic of race. Don’t say “I’m colorblind or “don’t see race.” Instead, have an actual discussion about it and see what you learn. You might look at things differently and gain a new perspective that will help you understand. Don’t be voluntarily blind — be someone who uses their eyes to see the world for what it is and what it could be.