Blind To Racism

By George Elliott


Are White People Blind To Racism?

There’s a loaded question. If you really wanted to, you could say that I’m a tad on the racist side simply because I used the term “white” to describe myself and all my fellow Caucasians in the title. Ah, but don’t go there. There’s a bigger thing going on here that I want to explain to you.

Here’s the scenario.

My doctor is East Indian. My best friend is Black (okay, African-American). My business partner is Asian. My significant other is Native-American, although she prefers to be identified as Indian.

I can’t possibly be racist with all of these different cultures active in my life. In fact, I like to say I’m colorblind. My standard response to any question that may hint that I may have a sliver of racism in me is:

“I see people, not color. As far as I’m concerned, we are all the same.”

Well, guess what?

Being colorblind is a form of racism. Regardless of how hard I may try to argue against that, my belief that we are all the same broad brushes all the people I have just introduced you to from my life and said that I wish they were all white.

That tells you that my default color for “sameness” is white. But how else does my colorblindness contribute to racism although I claim I’m not a racist? Let’s make a list and explain each of the points, shall we?

1 – It Removes Uniqueness

As my default color, since I see everyone as the same is white, that also means that my default culture is white culture. As a result, I am projecting “white” on my East Indian doctor, Black best friend, Asian business partner, and Native-American wife. It’s the same as me saying that their experiences, traditions, and uniqueness does not exist in my eyes. That is racist.

2 – It Suppresses Oppression

Because I view everyone through a white lens, I am denying my non-white friends the reality they face in their lives. For example, if a Black man is killed in the news, my view would be that had the victim been white, things would have ended very differently and most likely without a death. Taking away the victims blackness also removes an honest narrative on his death.

3 – It Says Non-Whites Are Inferior

I can pass my colorblindness down to my children. Imagine that! I can teach them the same thing I’ve been saying that “I don’t see color, I only see people.” What my children will glean from that is that they should pretend that non-white children of their age group are white and that will make it easier to become friends. In other words, it dehumanizes non-whites, which is racist.

4 – It Removes American Experiences

Hey, because I can’t see color, I also don’t see a lot of other things. For example, I would not see the injustice and oppression that Blacks experienced from being slaves right on up to the issues they face today. The same would go for Native Indians who had land stolen and suffered great losses at the hands of white men. To deny any of this happened is racist.

But it’s not just race that I’m colorblind to.

Seriously, it’s not the only thing that defines a person. Several other factors are just as easy to be blind to such as:

1 – Gender

If you have ever referred to the gals in the office pool as “skirts” or “babes” or anything like that, you’ll know what I mean. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

2 – Sexuality

Okay, there are too many letters to keep track of in the LGBT world so I choose to see all of these people the same. Oops. There’s my colorblindness again.

3 – Religion

Call him God, Buddha, the Pope, or some divine superior. It’s all the same, right? Besides, we’re all going to end up in the same place sooner or later, right?

4 – Ethnicity

Why do you think I have an Asian business partner? Those guys are smart and will help me to make a lot more money than if I was working on my own. Damn. Colorblind again.

5 – Ability

I can’t use the word “handicapped” anymore because, in reality, it’s a disability. Sure, I understand why they get the best parking spots at the mall. I have no problem with that at all. What gets to me is…hmmm. There I go again.

6 – Trauma History

My wife grew up in an abusive home. Our next-door neighbor is a veteran of Desert Storm. The girl down the hall from my office gets spooked at loud noises. I think some of it is just in their heads.

Does any of this sound familiar to you in any way?

If you are Caucasian and saw yourself in any of the examples above, I have some bad news for you. It turns out that you are colorblind to racism.

I know, you may deny it at first but look around you. You are far from alone.

So, how do you “cure” yourself in this situation? It means a bit of reprogramming on your part and the first step is an easy one.

Step 1 – Stop Seeing Everyone As The Same

You have to start to recognize that the people around you who are non-white do have an identity. For example, I will have to acknowledge that my wife is Native-American and accept the differences in that culture to mine. I may even learn something new. There could be dietary features that I may enjoy. By removing my colorblind, white-only lens, I open the opportunity to explore something from a non-white person in my life.

Step 2 – Accept The Differences

Once I can accept those things I used to gloss over with my attitude of everyone being the same, I may discover traits, values, and other great factors from the non-white people in my life that can enhance mine.

Are you up for the challenge?