it is unbelievably difficult to be colourblind in a world that doesn’t seem to want to believe that someone could actually be that way… I’m not talking about the “can’t distinguish red from green” kind of colourblind; I mean the “skin colour doesn’t mean anything about a person” kind of colourblind.
I recall the first time I ever saw Remember the Titans and being just completely FLOORED that people could’ve been so hateful to each other in my lifetime (I was born in 1971) just b/c the colour of someone’s skin was different from their own… that’s like saying you hate people who are bald, or blind, or short — in a word, it’s ridiculous, esp to any intelligent person. nobody CHOOSES their skin colour any more than we choose our height. how can anyone possibly be so irrational as to hate someone for something they have NO choice about?
people aren’t born prejudiced, they have to be taught. personally, I was taught as a child to dislike certain behaviours and attitudes, such as laziness and cruelty, but physical attributes like skin colour were simply never discussed as being worthy of disdain; to the contrary, those who influenced me were consistently quite adamant that “one cannot judge a book by its cover, but it’s what inside that counts”…
I never learned to treat people any particular way based on their appearance, and in my apparent ignorance and naïveté I sometimes say things that other people (whom I can only guess were taught, either directly or indirectly, to make such distinctions) have erroneously construed as prejudice against people whose skin colour differs from my own; honestly, I can’t help but wonder if some of the things I’ve said would’ve been labeled as “borderline racist” if my skin was any colour other than white… I’m deeply saddened and very hurt that anyone could think that I’m supposed to be keenly aware of and hyper-sensitive to race, when I’ve always thought the whole idea of living into Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream was to judge people “not…by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” — believe it or not, that’s not something this white girl merely thinks is a lovely sentiment, nor is it something I have to make a conscious effort to do, it’s just how I was raised and is part of MY character; it makes me genuinely unhappy to get these unwelcome reminders that so many other people apparently still think skin colour is important… any time this happens, part of me grieves that I offended someone b/c I’m just not the kind of person who goes out of my way to hurt people’s feelings, but part of me also grieves that any person — and often one who knows next to nothing about me and my values — felt free to assign values to me and then to judge me…!
but it seems the unhappy reality is that we do live in a world where people still feel the need to say such inappropriate and unproductive things as “when white will embrace what is right” (if a white man had said “when NON-white will embrace what is right,” he would’ve been immediately and publicly excoriated, and rightly so) — as if the colour of anyone‘s skin has ANY correlation to their behaviour/attitudes or their individual worth — and directly on the heels of Martin Luther King Day, no less… the hypocrisy is appalling. Dr. King’s eloquent and moving speech spoke of REAL hope and unity, not continually perpetuated divisiveness: “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. (emphasis mine)” I just assumed (apparently very naïvely) that the vast majority of people in this day and age truly believe that ALL men ARE created equal — despite our individual differences in ability, motivation, circumstances, etc. — and that what people do and say is INFINITELY more important than what they look like…
“colourblind” and “white person” are NOT mutually exclusive; white-skinned people aren’t automatically all bigots just by virtue of the fact that their skin is white…
you wanted me to see your skin;
I wanted to see your heart.
you wanted to show me how different we are
tho’ we’re really not so far apart.
you wanted me to make up for things
I’ve never done or said.
you wanted to teach me a lesson,
when all I wanted was to be your friend.
I’ve agonized over this post for 3 days now, and it’s made me physically ill — I had a migraine from crying tears of frustration as I wrote this, my stomach is still in and out of knots, and my heart just aches w/the pain of disillusionment… someone please tell me that intelligent people in this day and age are NOT actually expected to pay strict attention to the colour of people’s skin (or the shape of their facial features, or any other physical attribute) and learn a particular way to treat each variation instead of just dealing honestly and fairly w/all of them… please tell me that I’m not “ahead of my time” and that I don’t have to resign myself to going through life w/people continually trying to pull me down into making assumptions about another person based on how they look and having to live w/people making assumptions about me just b/c of how I look… please tell me that yes, we’re well past inflicting unfounded or poorly formed preconceptions on others and it’s only a rare few who still haven’t caught up… PLEASE…