By Jarune Uwujaren
Though people might be trying to say “I’m not prejudiced,” it sounds more like they’re saying “I’m open-minded because I’m ignorant” to racially conscious people.
I’ve seen these words used to deny racial privilege, to discount the experiences that people have with racism, to deny the whitewashing of people of color in Hollywood.
I’ve seen it used to sidestep the lack of diversity and inclusion in higher education, to back away from the sense of pain and responsibility that comes from acknowledging all the ugly racial dynamics that play out in our society.
Because if you really don’t see race at all, it doesn’t make much difference to the people whose livelihoods, cultures, and identities are all affected by racial inequality.
There are plenty of other people who will remind them of their race when they look for jobs and housing, when they walk down the street, or when they seek legal counsel.
“I don’t see race” is a personal statement. You, person who doesn’t see race, may have a cookie for being so free of prejudice (not really), but the same does not apply to the world around us.
Sometimes racism is extremely subtle–subtle to the point that the person on the receiving end of it may not even register how messed up it actually is. It may even seem complimentary on the surface.
2. Pointing Out Racism Is Not a Witch Hunt or an Attempt to Make You Feel Bad
A person doesn’t have to be a moustache-twirling villain from the Deep South to do or say racist things.
3. Acknowledging People’s Racial Identities Isn’t a Bad Thing
Telling someone that you “don’t see them as x race” or that you “don’t see race” in general is an easy way to dismiss that person’s racial identity. And by racial identity, I don’t mean believing that “everything I do and say is a result of my race.”
Personally, I'd change the headline. If you claim you don't see race, you're probably lying to yourself or to us.
Many of the arguments against Obama, terrorism, welfare, immigration, gun control, voter "fraud," and tribal sovereignty are race-based. If you repeat these arguments, that qualifies you as someone who sees race but lies about it.
And if you're the one person in a million who really doesn't see race...so what? The problem we're talking about isn't you individually. It's the racism in millions of people, in our laws, and in our institutions.
Even if you're prejudice-free, it's your duty to make America prejudice-free for everyone. If you ignore or deny the problem, you're saying it's acceptable for other Americans to suffer racism.
For more on "colorblind" America, see "Everybody's Equal" But No Interracial Dating and America's "Colorblind Racism."
Below: "I don't see race. If America had been inhabited by white people, I would've cheated and killed them too."