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Why the Phrase “I Don’t See Color” Is Problematic

Why the Phrase “I Don’t See Color” Is Problematic

I have heard this phrase many times before. Usually those who say it do so with good intentions, wanting to be inclusive of others. However, no matter how well-intentioned someone is, this phrase is still harmful - and here’s why. 

Every person on this planet is unique in more ways than we can imagine. Race and color are only two markers on a long list of demographics that are part of anyone’s identity. Our family dynamics, socioeconomic status, level of education and genetic-makeup are only a few of the other things that shape our individual identities. To say that you don’t see color is to deny these differences exist. The problem isn’t the fact that there are different colors. The underlying problem is that theses differences aren’t seen as equal in the eyes of some people. For many, it is much easier to say that they are “colorblind” instead of acknowledging that our modern society values some differences more than others.  Seeing color does not equate to racism. It is when some colors are treated as though they are less valuable and less important than others that injustice begins. 

The language of “colorblindness” shuts the door on many much-needed conversations about race and heritage before they even begin. Acknowledging color gives us the opportunity to have incredible discussions that may be beneficial and enlightening to all parties involved - discussions on why my hair is curly and yours is straight, and why my culture believes one thing while yours believes another. For someone to look at me and deny that my color is different than theirs implies that we are the same, and that is simply not true. By saying that you do not see another person’s color, you are telling them that you don’t see their culture, their history, their background, and many other things that make them unique. By saying that you don’t see their color you are ignoring multiple parts of their identity, some of which they may be extremely proud of. Colorblindness is not the same thing as fairness. 

We all come from different family values, religious practices, cultural traditions, nationalities, and yes, colors. Each one should be not only acknowledged but celebrated for the beauty that it truly is.

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