We can do hard things. Let’s talk.
People are people. I don’t see race.
Popular variations on this: I don’t see color, I see people. We’re all one race – the human race. We all bleed red.
Come on, Laura, what’s wrong with this? I thought we wanted a post-racial America. Are you saying we don’t want a world where people are judged by their character instead of the color of their skin?
Okay. Full disclosure: I used to subscribe to this philosophy. I don’t think I ever used this particular phrase but the concept was the same. Then the kids came along and everything changed.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s what folks mean when they say “I don’t see race.”
- I don’t see a skin color when I look at you.
- I don’t judge you based on your skin color.
- I don’t clump people together based on their skin color.
- Therefore I can’t ever be racist.
In the end, “I don’t see race” has a lot more to do with asserting our wokeness than describing a reality. Now for a few thoughts on the matter.
You unquestionably can see skin color. It is literally impossible not to see it. Insisting that you and you alone are impervious to both the laws of nature and the social conditioning of our society is arrogant and, frankly, weakens your credibility.
It’s human nature to make judgements based on appearance. Shoot, it’s the reason that snooty saleslady wouldn’t help Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and, movie or not, I think we can all agree that was true to life. Admitting you’re friendlier towards a well-dressed person than a scruffy one is simply more palatable than saying you’ll sit at the table with the white people. The reality is we judge based on skin color, too. Yes, even you.
Saying you don’t see color dismisses the experience of people of color. It’s saying to someone, “You say this is your identity, but we’re all human. My experience trumps yours. Get on board.” The reality is all humans are not the same; our lives and perspectives are shaped by our unique culture, education, upbringing, beliefs, and yes, skin color.
Note to self: just because my skin color doesn’t matter to me on a conscious level it doesn’t mean someone else’s skin color isn’t important to them. Empathy, people.
The Small Bites series is a way for us to break down a really hard conversation into manageable pieces. I hope you come into this space willing to read with an open mind. That being said, I know now what I didn’t know in my twenties and thirties, but I don’t yet know what I don’t yet know. Ya know? I love hearing your stories and perspectives in the comments. Thank you for being willing to share.
You can find previous posts by going to the “Let’s talk about” search field and selecting small bites.
I learned a lot from this post while writing my own. I highly recommend it.