The fastest way to suppress critical discussions around systemic, explicit, and subtle racism – and sideline any meaningful change that could dismantle the powers that benefit from it – is to declare yourself racially colourblind. The common trope of “I don’t see colour” is not allyship. It’s erasure.
I recently found myself having a conversation with a fellow White woman about racism within American society, where she declared that she didn’t see colour, loved everyone the same and that all lives matter. And while this may, on the face of it, sound like love, light, peace and being down for the fight against racism and racist power structures, it’s far from it.
… when the parts of society with the most pain and lack of protection are cared for, the whole system benefits. For some reason, the community of white America would rather adjust the blinders they’ve set against racism, instead of confront it … Why You Need To Stop Saying All Lives Matter (Harper’s Bazaar/Rachel Cargle)
Neither of us will ever have to face what we were (trying) to discuss, and it made me realize that there are a lot of White people who use this privilege of opting out/not seeing an issue to proclaim to the world that they couldn’t possibly be racist.
I get it. It’s easier to say you’re colourblind than actually look at, or admit to any biases you may have. It’s easier to not see something so that you’ve got no responsibility to do anything about it. But seriously, let’s not throw glitter hearts at a pile of bullshit. It’s still going to smell the same.
Colourblindness allows space for the denial that racism and racist power structures exist. It doesn’t celebrate true history, diversity or promote opportunities for progress. It excuses and empowers unchecked cultural appropriation. It protects racism and racists from being exposed, and defends a status quo that benefits them. If you don’t see race then you won’t fight against racial injustice within education, economics, criminal justice, housing, medical care, land/tribal sovereignty, racial profiling, police brutality, and all the other facets of society that it permeates – but that’s probably the point.
What is concerning is the real possibility that we, as a society, will choose not to care. We will choose to be blind to injustice and the suffering of others. We will look the other way and deny our public agencies the resources, data, and tools they need to solve problems. We will refuse to celebrate what is beautiful about our distinct cultures and histories, even as we blend and evolve. That is a cause for despair. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Michelle Alexander)
As uncomfortable as it might be to confront ourselves, or the people within our families and social circles, or those in positions of power/politics, it’s got to be done. And if you come across someone who sticks their head up their colourblind arse, then tell them that you see them, and you know what they really mean – and you’re not going to make excuses for them anymore.
Colorblindness Is A Form Of Racism, A Nemesis, And A Barrier To Dismantling It – The Olympian/David Whitfield
Racial Justice – ACLU