Parenting

How Colorblindness Is Actually Racist

Colorblindness is a common response to racism. More specifically, it is a common response from white people attempting to reject racism. "I am colorblind. I see people, not color. We are all the same." You might even teach your kids this perspective with the best intentions.
07/11/2016 06:04pm ET | Updated July 12, 2017
Two young children holding hands

Colorblindness is a common response to racism. More specifically, it is a common response from white people attempting to reject racism. "I am colorblind. I see people, not color. We are all the same." You might even teach your kids this perspective with the best intentions.

Here are ways colorblindness is actually racist:

Colorblindness foists whiteness on everyone. It is another way of saying, "I view everyone as if they were white." Your default color for sameness is white.

Colorblindness strips non-white people of their uniqueness.Your default culture for sameness is white culture. When you encourage your child to be colorblind and view everyone as "the same," you are projecting white on people of who aren't white, negating their experiences, traditions, and uniqueness.

Colorblindness suppresses critically important narratives of oppression. Once you view everyone through a colorblind, white lens, you deny the reality that non-white people face. After police shot and killed Philando Castile, a black man, the Governor of Minnesota asked, "Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver here were white? I don't think it would have." Philando Castile's blackness is essential to an honest narrative of his death. Colorblindness assumes that a white man would have been shot in a similar manner that day.

Colorblindness assumes everyone has the same experience here in America. When you fail to see color, you fail to recognize injustice and oppression. Comedian Louis CK explains the fallacy of this assumption brilliantly. "I love being white," he says. "Here's how great it is to be white: If I would have a time machine, I could go to any time and it would be awesome when I get there! That is exclusively a white privilege! Black people cant f-- with time machines!"

Colorblindess promotes the idea that non-white races are inferior. When you teach your child to be colorblind, you are essentially telling them, "If someone isn't white, pretend they look like you so you can be friends." Stripping people of a fundamental aspect of their identity by claiming not to see color is dehumanizing.

Race is not the only factor that defines people. Gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, ability, trauma history, and socioeconomic status (to name just a few) are factors that can result in marginalization, injustice, and oppression.

Promoting colorblindness is easy. In such conversations with children, colorblindess eliminates the need to recognize and discuss extremely uncomfortable realities while perpetuating a culture of racism, injustice, and oppression. Be brave. Have the tough conversations. Acknowledging differences is not racist; it is the opposite of racist.

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