It seems that whenever someone profoundly says they “don’t see race”, it is supposed to resonate as an enlightened and noble thing. That it is supposed to act as a mere reflection of their mentality when it comes to people who come from different backgrounds. In a sense it is, right?
Race is not a biological hysteria. It doesn’t determine the content of one’s character or how they treat others. With this being blatantly obvious, it doesn’t matter. However, I have seen these words used to invalidate experiences some people have with racism, to evade the lack of racial diversity and inclusivity in higher education, to obscure the whitewashing of people of color in Hollywood, to step over the pain from acknowledging the unfortunate racial dynamics in our society.
People, when making this “I don’t see color” statement, are trying to say “I’m not prejudiced”. With this statement, it is resonating more towards the fact that even though they are open-minded, they are ignorant towards people who are racially conscious. This is harmful in a way where it is almost pushing or taking back the responsibility in recognizing racial issues.
If you do not see race, it really does not make difference in how people’s livelihood, individuality, cultures, or identities are affected by the depths of racial inequality. There is an abundance of people who will be reminded of their race every time they seek a job, seek legal counsel, or even when they are walking down the street.
Through my own lens, and perhaps others’, as well, the “I don’t see color” statement is a personal one. You, person that does not see race, can continue feeling that way, however, no one is going to give you a cookie (and you do not deserve one). The same way you feel will not apply cohesively to the world around us either.
Race shouldn’t matter, but it does. It matters that the western world has a pristine history of white supremacy that has not been completely washed away. It matters that we once had a racial slave system in the Americas. It matters that there are people who are living today that vividly remember the implementation of racial segregation. It matters to the kids who still do not see positive versions of themselves in the media. It matters that many of us have racial identities that reflect our cultures and values. I understand why looking at race with a direct focus is equivalent to looking at the sun for most people. But they benefit from ignoring race in being a factor in which they do not have to deal with the narrative of being pawns in a system that rides along racial inequality.
By all means, keep avoiding being prejudice. Continue encouraging yourself to understand that one’s race does not define or regulate their character. But do not dismiss people’s experiences with racism. Racism exists. It is not uncommon. Do not respond to racial obliviousness.
Do not use “colorblindness” as an excuse to defy the things that allow you to uphold your privilege in society. If you are trying to emulate an open mind, then act accordingly. Do not ignore the things that make our system unequal, do not be afraid to recognize racial identities, and do not let inequality go unchecked.
This is not a post-racial society. We are still living in a time where a lot of the world’s aspects feeds off of racial identities negatively. Just because the First Family was once black, does not mean that our society is cleansed from racism and racist values. See race for what it is – a neutral and very real thing that holds way too power in our world.