People Are Like Eggs
A few years ago, I overheard a woman talking to her son. She said, "People are like these eggs. Some of them are brown, some of them are white, but they're all the same on the inside." At the time, I was truly awed by this mother's wisdom. What a great way to explain different races to a child! But for adults the whole "We're all the same, just different colors" is dangerous and ignores the ongoing, complex race relations issues in our country.
The first time I heard someone say "I don't see color", I thought, "Well, that has to be an inconvenience." How does one go about life not recognizing someone's skin color? Martin Luther King proclaimed, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Not once did he mention them being stripped of their color, an integral part of who we are.
Nice Try, but You Need More People
I understand that people say "I don't see color" to say, "Your color doesn't make me think more or less of you." That's nice. But by taking away your "vision" of someone's color, you're denying the influence that their color has had on their life. All of us are shaped by our experiences with people of various physical characteristics, personality markers, and genetic factors. To say someone's color doesn't influence you asking them, "Is that your real hair?" or "Do the people dance in the aisles at your church" is just simply... baffling.
It's Just Not True
And when I say baffling... I mean... I don't believe you. You probably want to not be influenced by someone's color and see everyone as cage-free eggs with different colored shells, but you can't. Because you're not actually blind. You can actually see and think and feel! You are the child of your parents, your experiences, your environment, and your rearing. For example, if every time you encountered African-Americans on television, they were swinging chains, flashing gold teeth, and using poor grammar... someone like Barack Obama or Eric Holder may be a bit confusing to your senses. You may not trust him, much less vote for him. You can say, "I don't see color; I just don't like his politics." I'm not suggesting that every person that didn't vote for Obama made a decision based on his race. That's stupid. But when they polledliberal White Hilllary supporters, and 60% said they'd rather vote for McCain/Palin than vote for Obama, a man whose policies were overwhelmingly similar to Hillary's, I gotta scratch my head, and consider if race was a factor to some people.
We're Different and It's OK
Although some people hesitate to lump ethnicity/racial background and culture together, there is considerable overlap. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians often share common practices within their respective groups. That's ok! It's what make America the home of Popeye's, Panda Express, Taco Bell, and uh... we'll say Boston Market.
Proud of Us
-- Not all Black Americans, but most, are the descendants of people were enslaved for hundreds of years, (not 100 - Ann Coulter), and our ability to be resilient and survive in light of our often turbulent history is something I'm proud of.
-- Even when the majority of white schools closed their doors to us, we created our own schools and had/have an open-door policy to all groups, whites included. That's something I'm proud of.
-- Despite living in a country that didn't always fight for them, African-Americans have fought in every war in the history of the United States. Makes me proud.
-- African-Americans have made significant contributions in literature, art, agriculture, clothing, music, language, and social and technological advances. Makes me proud.
I want you to see allll of that when you look at me. I don't want to you to discredit my history because it's attached to my color.
We Have Work To Do
Sadly, despite huge strides in race relations, America has a long way to go.
Consider the following stats:
- For years, the folks at Gallup have been conducting a poll asking if "racism against Blacks is still widespread." While there's a large gap between Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, overall, the majority of Americans (56%)-Black, White, and Brown- believe racism is a problem for Blacks in America.
- The unemployment rate for Blacks is double the rate for Whites, even when controlling for education levels.
- The median salary of White men in 2007 was approximately $41,000 and $31,000 for Black men. That's a pretty black and white number. (Pun intended)
When I meet people, I want people to understand the very real and very different challenges facing my community. These differences often shape the choices I make, the causes I support, and the candidates I vote for. Don't say "I don't see it", because acknowledging that there's a problem is the first step to fixing it.
A Little James Brown
I'm Black, and I'm proud. Does my Blackness make me better than someone's Whiteness or Yellowness, or Redness? No. But it does make me unique. And I'd prefer that the color blind folk, take off their blinders when looking at me.
A Little Humor
Stephen Colbert, one of my favorite pundits, regularly comments on his "inability to see color". Examples are here:
1. Stephen Colbert and the word Negro
2. Stephen Colbert and the racist Visa Black Card
3. Stephen Colbert and Snoop Dog
Your thoughts, criticisms? I'll even take applause.