"I Don't See Color"

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Momentous Institute
By Momentous Institute Oct 02, 2017

One pervasive approach to working in communities of color is the so-called “colorblind” approach. We’ve all heard the line, “I don’t see color.” It’s well-intentioned, meant to show that someone sees all people as valuable and doesn’t discriminate based on color. It’s an effort to show that color doesn’t influence how one sees other people.

But there’s a fatal flaw in this approach. A person’s color isn’t something that should be hidden or ignored. It’s an important part of a person’s identity!

Here’s what a colorblind approach says to people of color:

Your race is something we shouldn’t talk about.

Saying that one doesn’t “see” color makes race a taboo topic. It implies that race is something we should gloss over and not pay attention to.

Your race does not influence your own experiences.

People of color know this isn’t true. One’s race has a tremendous impact on the lens through which she sees the world and how they are seen in the world.

Your race is not important to me.

A colorblind approach tells someone that the person is not interested in understanding the significance of “different” and diversity. It says that they’re not willing to go beyond their own comfort level to understand and value that which uniquely makes a person who they are.

Lastly, a colorblind approach simply isn’t possible. We do see color. When we pretend that all people are the same, we deny the fact that all people simply aren’t the same. We are all part of our bigger context and we can’t be reduced to just one thing. Race is an important part of our context. When we don’t acknowledge that we see color, we deny the reality of the richness in diversity and we fail to see people for who they really are. 

©2017 Momentous Institute

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