Facebook: “I don’t see color!”


all lives matterThough 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:

How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race

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.”

Shared links:

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.

Streaming Shows That Will Help You Examine White Privilege

James Corden: It’s Time for Change in the US. “How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

5 thoughts on “Facebook: “I don’t see color!””

  1. We might have our first fight over this.

    I was about three when my mother took me to Mays Department Store. I still remember staring in wonder at a Black person who walked by. My mother stopped what she was doing , kneeled down and said, “That is (and remember this was around 1958) a colored person. They have a different colored skin but that’s the only difference. We are all just people.”

    I remember thinking about that for a second, taking it in, then shrugging my shoulders, and that was it. A few years later, I heard her yell at me from downstairs where the TV was and telling me to drop what I was doing and get down there now. She wanted me to watch a news broadcast of hoses behind turned on civil rights marchers. We both sat there in horror. I was ten.

    And those were my lessons. It has worked for me. All the other stuff you sort of figure out, but while I, of course, get the whole white privilege issue, what I don’t get about it is this: nobody is perfect, but genuine good will and thoughtfulness counts for a lot, and there are people who are on our side and people who aren’t. The real ire, I think, needs to be reserved for the Trumpers who aren’t. I believe all whites are racist to a degree but there are different degrees and different degrees of awareness. All you can do is do your best, but I also think that not everyone is the enemy, even those who experience privilege. There are a lot worse out there, and if we all don’t unite at least around that, we’re all screwed, so to me the the real issue has always been “Whose side are you on?” If the answer is our side while it may not be perfect, it’s still better than gun-toting, red-hat wearing empowered idiots out there intimidating good people into silence. They’re the real enemy.

  2. I don’t argue about race, Jeff. Hell, I don’t talk about it all that much cf to my total content. But in my blog, I get to own my own experience. There are LOTS of perfectly good, perfectly nice white people – I know LOTS of them – who, nevertheless have been… asleep? until recently, not being the allies that black people NEED to create change, and take on those MAGA hatted folks, some of whom they re likely to be related to, working with, etc. It’s the difference between being nonracist and anti-racist.

    I can’t help but note that most of the demonstrations against the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, et al., has been mostly black people. So I’m happy white folks are beginning to get it, even if it’s exhausting: https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/12/emotional-impact-watching-white-people-wake-racism-real-time-12839920/?

  3. Jeff- let me go one step further. When white people tell me they don’t see color, it is often (not always) “You’re not like those OTHER black people, who scare me. You’re nice. You’re polite. Your language is amazingly good. ” I grew up as usually the only black kid in my class from K-9, so I have learned how to negotiate the terrain. It’s not always been comfortable, and it’s not comfortable now, with some white people trying too damn hard to make up for years of neglect overnight.

  4. Well, seeing color, acknowledging the different experiences but accepting people as people is one thing not to be sneezed at in this country. And it is very different from those who are on the other side. I don’t see how any self aware person wouldn’t see the differences but at my age and with all the crap I’ve seen (40 plus years as a journalist), my take is no one is perfect but I know who the people out there who mean harm and are the real enemy as opposed to those who may not be all I want them to be, but who I can count on as friends or as positive contributors to society. I remember a 60s activist telling me in answer to a question I had, which was, why didn’t it all work out in the way you hoped. He had lots of reasons but his most interesting response was, “We set the bar to high for people to join us,” and I think he was right.

    And by the way, I’m not questioning you or anyone’s right to own their experience or feelings, just pointing out mine, and my feeling that people are viewed sometimes as the enemy (or they even see themselves that way) and they’re not but if they’re made to feel that way then you run the risk of losing them. By “you” I mean anyone in any sort of pickle or coalition that depends on allies to accomplish a goal. If I only had a dollar for everyone who was purely the person I hoped they’d be, I’d have twenty five cents in the bank and be lucky at that.

  5. Which is why I seldom talk about race. It’s generally unsatisfactory for all involved. I’ve not seen white people as the enemy, but a whole lot of white people have asked what I should/should not do in these days, and I have addressed it.

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