Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Am Not Colorblind

I grew up in a place that I am realizing is somewhat of an anomaly. I grew up in schools where kids were white, black, Middle Eastern, Korean, Chinese, Hispanic, biracial. My friends, neighbors, and classmates practiced a variety of religions, or no religion at all. I had babysitters who were white, who were black, who were deaf.

Normal to me was that there was no normal. Everyone was different, everyone had a story, and it was worth learning as many stories as I could.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.

My mother sang that to me when I was little, and I knew that it was true because I could see so many colors and lifestyles around me.

As an adult, and especially now that I’ve moved around and seen other communities, I’ve realized my childhood was perhaps a bit different than what many people experience.

The gut-wrenching news stories we keep hearing prove we have a long way to go toward peace and justice. The racism and religious animosity that I “knew” were things of the past as a child, I know now are still issues.

With emotions running high, it’s sometimes scary to speak up because words with good intentions behind them can be met with disdain.

One of those well-intentioned words that I keep seeing is “colorblind.” As in “I am colorblind; I see everyone the same.” I understand what you mean.

But when I see that word, I question it. Because we are not all the same.

If I am colorblind, I am missing a very key piece of who you are. The color of your skin is part of what makes you you. It is part of what makes you beautiful. It is part of your story.

I absolutely believe we should all be afforded the same opportunities. I want to be clear about that. However, I can’t ignore that maybe you haven’t been afforded those opportunities. And that is unjust.

Your experience — whether or not you are white, like me — is different from mine, because we have different bodies, different histories, different racial compositions, different parents, different personalities.

I am not colorblind. I don’t ever want to be colorblind. I see in color. Full, rich, vibrant color. That’s what makes this life interesting.

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