Though I was not looking for it, I came across messages of people trying to explain white privilege and why All Lives Matter sucks. One thread started with a friend of mine, a woman of color, reporting about a conversation she had.
My friend: “I don’t see color when I look at you, I don’t see color when I look at anyone.” An actual quote from someone I was speaking to yesterday. But I’ve heard this my entire life. As has every person of color. If you’re guilty of saying this to us – stop it.
Color is a part of an individual. Saying you don’t see it is to deny the beauty in which we are all made. Also – claiming to not see color serves as a justification for the stance that people of color aren’t mistreated. And further allows for the normalization of inequality. See where this is going?
Be educated about the experiences of people of color. Ask questions. See color. Embrace it. It’s beautiful.
Me: OMG, all my damn life. I’ve never done it, but I’ve been sorely tempted to walk up to a white person and say, “I don’t see color when I look at you.” And it’s almost always well-meaning people.
A friend of hers: Your friend is far from woke. But I also have heard people say it as a way to spiritually bypass racism. Including the statement, we are one… I don’t see color… the list goes on and on.
“Be color brave”
Another friend of hers: Growing up I was taught in school, society and my parents NOT to see color. To treat everyone equally. I don’t think it was malicious but what people thought was best at the time. Now being a teacher in the DOE they have made the conscious effort to train staff to SEE color, appreciate the difference and struggles that come with it. They say “be color brave, not color blind”. It will take time to ‘retrain’ but to me, it’s a start.
Some of the links that were shared included these:
Jimmy Kimmel Addresses His Own White Privilege: “To me, white privilege was what Donald Trump had – a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with. So, I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it and here’s what I think it is. People who are white – we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us – based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens. If ever. Whereas black people experience that every day.”
In another conversation:
Imagine your house was on fire and when the fire truck came they began spraying water on each house on your street. Because all houses matter, right? But only one of them is on fire.
Or the Jesus variation about having 100 sheep, one is lost, so he leaves the 99 to find it. Doesn’t he care about the 99? Of course, he does.
One of my pastors subsequently posted another great Biblical one:
The father was waiting there with a sign #ProdigalSonsMatter
When the older son saw it, he was angry, wouldn’t attend the party, and moped around with his own sign: #AllSonsMatter
Father: “Dude, It isn’t about you right now.”
Yet despite the efforts of a couple women, one guy kept insisting “ALL lives matter to me as a Christian.”
Not seeing race does little to dismantle racist structures or improve the lives of people of colour. In order to do so, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is affected by negative stereotyping of theirs, and on whom power and privilege is bestowed – not just because of their race, but also their class and gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.
James Corden: It’s Time for Change in the US. “How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”