Us white people love to say that we are color blind. What we mean is that we aren’t racist–or at least strive not to be–and that we don’t judge people based on the color of their skin. “I don’t see black or white–I just see people,” someone might say. And I understand where that sentiment comes from, having thought it myself. I get it. I like to think that I don’t judge people on the color of their skin, so therefore race is not an issue to me.
But, therein lies the problem–saying that you have to be color blind to appreciate Black people is saying that black skin is not the same as white skin. See where I’m going here? What we should be saying is that we are color brave. That we see Black people and their beautiful black skin and value it every bit as much as our white skin. We don’t have to be “blind” to skin color to treat everyone the same. There are Black people and there are white people and a million shades in between. It’s OK to see color–it’s important to recognize our differences because differences are good–and every skin color has equal value.
We see you for who you are, and we appreciate you in all of your beautiful blackness.
Mellody Hobson, pictured above with her husband George Lucas, takes the issue of colorblindness a step further in her TedTalk from 2014 as it relates to business and success in America. She explains racial discrimination in a way that’s easy to understand and ends with a powerful call to action for all of us. Please take the time to watch–it will be the best 14 minutes you spend today.
“Colorblindness is dangerous,” she says. “Because it means that we are ignoring the problem. We need to embrace diversity and recognize all races. But to be color brave, we need to be willing to have proactive conversations with honesty, understanding, and courage… not because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s the smart thing to do.”