Why I Hate The Phrase, “I Don’t See Color”

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seecolor

Do you say this phrase? Let me explain why I want you to stop.

I hear people say, “I don’t see color” or “I don’t care if you’re pink or green” or “color shouldn’t matter, we are all one race”. Ugh. These are all sentences that really don’t mean anything, just one of those things people say because it sounds good.

We all know that color shouldn’t matter but it does. In America it most certainly does and acting like you don’t see the color of someone standing in front of you is ridiculous. You are engaging in denial if you think you don’t see color. Please stop it.

I think this phrase hides the underlining truth in our country that no one seems to really be able to discuss…racism. Racism is alive and thriving in our country and you saying that you don’t see color really doesn’t help. I know you think it does, but it doesn’t. Why? Because unless you are blind or have something wrong with your eyes, you most definitely see color.

You see the varying hues of skin that are living in this vast country, you HAVE to see the differences in the shape of our eyes, noses, and lips. You see the different textures of hair that grow out of the heads of those that don’t look like you. Why would you not want to see all of that variety?

Somehow in our country it has become bad to see color. It is now acceptable for someone to tell me, “I don’t see color.” Well, I’m Black and I want you to see me. I want you to notice the rich brownness of my skin and how when the sun hits it I glow. I want you to see that my color extends from the top of my head to the top of my feet. I want you to appreciate this color I so proudly wear that was handed down to me by my ancestors that survived the Middle Passage, then survived the autrocities of slavery that our country never wants to really discuss.

I want you to admire the way my skin turns a reddish hue of mahogany when it is exposed to the Caribbean rays of sunlight. I want you to see all of that and understand that even though it is different than you, it is equal. And when I am not treated equally I want you to understand my frustration.

It is a fact that I am sometimes treated differently because of my skintone. I live in America and it’s a reality I have been shown from infancy so when I tell you this I want you to understand. I am accustomed to it and I live with it. I want you to see that when that happens it isn’t me playing the race card, but it’s a fact that I deal with on a daily basis.

I want you to understand that wanting you to see my color and appreciate it doesn’t mean I want you to ask me ridiculous questions about my race.  When you say to me, “I don’t see color.” that proves to me that you and I live in completely different realms of reality because while living in America I can never not see color because I am constantly reminded of mine.

Tell me this, if you were walking down the street and saw a Black man with a hoodie on with his hands in his pockets walking toward you, you really think you wouldn’t notice his color? If your child was going on a date and you saw that the date was Black, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t notice that fact? Come on now, of course you would.

Maybe you are one of those people that really wouldn’t mind. Maybe you truly believe that you absolutely don’t care about the color of someone’s skin. But answer me this, how many people of a different color have been to your house to eat? How many times have you broken bread in a person of colors home? When you reach for the phone to call one of your dearest friends, are any of them a different hue than you?

 

If traveling has taught me anything, it has shown  me that variety is lovely. When I was in Senegal I saw the lack of variety in the shades of blackness. When I was in Egypt I noticed how northern Egyptians were much lighter than southern Egyptians. When I was in Sweden I noticed the beauty of the women as they walked down the street and how their skin looked nothing like mine.

When I was in Russia how could I not see that I was the only Black person for miles?  How could I not notice all of these things? Does the fact that I took note of the differences mean I’m racist? Of course not. It means I am normal and I definitely see color. I just don’t let it influence who I am friends with, where I travel, or who I choose to love.

A friend of mine was upset because her son said to her, “Mommy, what is the Brown man doing?” She thought that was offensive. The little boy saw a police officer standing with another officer and the only way he could distinguish between the two was his color. What is wrong with that? Why did my friend feel like her son said something offensive? If a child sees color, why do we have to act like we don’t?

 

Saying you don’t see color stops us from having discussions that really matter. It stops us from being able to talk to one another about how difficult it can be to live in this country. When you tell me you don’t see my color, you are basically telling me that you don’t see a huge part of who I am and that doesn’t help me. What I want you to say is, “I see your color. And it’s beautiful.”

 

Do you use this phrase? If so, do you understand why I hate it? For those of you who have heard someone say this to you, how do you feel?

 

THE NEXT STEP: I would appreciate it if you could use the social icons to the left to share this post on social media. I have many more posts on the blog so feel free to stalk my blog, I won’t mind! Whatever you do, I thank you for taking some time to visit my little corner of the internet. Have a great day!

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Comments

  1. I totally agree. I think that phrase sentiment is absolute BS. It is impossible to not see color. It is one thing to attempt to not let color influence your actions, but to claim to not even see it…is just not cool in my book.

    • Yep. I’m happy I’m not the only one! I appreciate you stopping by!
      Roni recently posted..Why I Hate The Phrase, My Profile

    • Let me tell you why I say I don’t see colour anymore. What is colour? Melanin. And people who have a problem with people who say they don’t recognise the amount of melanin you have is ridiculous. You are in essence saying your skin colour determines who YOU ARE, when that is exactly the opposite of what the good in humanity is trying to achieve. I don’t want to see colour, I want to see minds and souls and characters. You are making a really silly fuss over melanin and pigmentation. And not “seeing colour” doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the differences in people. Everyone is a work of art and we can all admire and accept each other’s differences without it being a DIVIDING FACTOR.

      Sorry for the shouting but I feel people that want to constantly be recognised for being black are a hindrance to progress.

      Background: mum is Fijian, Dad is Jamaican. Born and raised in London. Well travelled.

      • You’re totally entitled to your opinion, I just don’t agree with it. But I thank you for commenting!

  2. I detest the saying. Everytime someone says they don’t see colour I get nauseated. Everyone sees colour, it’s what you do with that information that shows whether you are racist or not. I see colour all the damn time. It’s the first information we process when we see people.
    Guyanesesista recently posted..21 Questions – Hair EditionMy Profile

  3. Girrrrl. I used to work with a bunch of people who “didn’t see color”. All that they really meant is that they didn’t see me. I see color, clearly and it’s not a bad thing. I think the friend you mentioned (and many others) are missing the blessing in having children around. If we as adults could see things as simply as they do, we’d be so much better off.
    Ravendelana recently posted..And I heard…My Profile

    • Yes so true. Kids are so honest and if we could learn from them we could be so much better off. Her sone was being honest and there was nothing wrong with what he said. Thanks for commenting!

  4. By saying they don’t see colour they’re saying they don’t see your identity. They’re not wanting to associate you with belonging to the other category that they are not comfortable with. Great post :)

  5. It’s funny because I just responded on someone’s status regarding that very quote. I feel that a person should just say they aren’t racist. That phrase, to me, is a cop out for some and can be a generalized statement to not cause arise in conversation. On the other hand, a lot of people use the expression to say that they love everyone and misunderstand the statement themselves.

    Great post!
    LeSha Brewer recently posted..Project 365 Day 17| A Walk In the ParkMy Profile

  6. It’s so important that we teach our children to recognize differences in people in a respectful and honest way. Without judging, without lying, and without telling them they don’t see color. That advances nothing. We can change the way we see race in this country by recognizing and celebrating diversity, not teaching our children it’s ‘rude’ to notice it and point it out. I also think it’s important to help lessen the stigma of talking about race by allowing our children to ask questions openly and honestly. That’s the only way they learn and stifling their interest by telling them they don’t see something that they obviously do only forces them to stop asking and start assuming. Great post!

  7. Molly Wheeler says:

    I think adults say that out of a desire to not seem racist but it’s not terribly genuine as you discuss. I recently finished teaching preschool-aged children in Tanzania. All were very different skin colors and one of my favorite pictures is of everyone’s hands in a circle. They loved to identify themselves and talk about their different colors- how they were all beautiful. We see colors and that should all be ok to discuss! However, let’s see other things in addition. We aren’t the same- thank goodness for that.

    • You should have a blog! Teaching kids in Tanzania…how wonderful. And yes, it’s ok to see colors! All the different colors of everyone is beautiful. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
      Roni recently posted..Why I Hate The Phrase, My Profile

  8. Very Well Written. Yes after reading this I completely understand where you are coming from, but also I can see how people can say they don’t. Of course you physically see color and that isnt going to go away. Yes it should be acknowledged, just as if you can notice someone’s eye color, hair color or even texture. Its there and when people use the phrase, they are acting like “color” doesn’t exist because something racist might come up {in their minds}.

    I feel God made everyone in a variety of shades, personality traits, hair textures and more. God love variety – but it only become a problem when you discriminate on that variety. I will admit, at times when I interact with people {especially of another race} of course you notice it at first, but I love when the blurred line of color doesn’t even matter anymore and it becomes more about a spiritual connection and good energy. So it’s not that I don’t see color, I just acknowledge energy over skin hues more!
    Kiwi recently posted..{Product Review} Curl Collection Subscription BoxMy Profile

  9. I see color… I see it everywhere. My kids see it too. I’m working hard to teach them that the color of someone’s skin is just another part of who they are. I’m white and from the south. I can attest to the fact that racism is alive, even within my own family and I don’t turn a blind eye to it, but I try to do what I can to change it. Color is there, but it doesn’t change a person’s value.
    Jamie Rippy ( recently posted..Wind Down, Snack Up {Family Movie Time with The Smurfs}My Profile

  10. Nicely written! People just say those things to cover up what they really mean. We all see color even though some people don’t want to admit it. It’s not the color of our skin I’m worried about but the content of the heart. Life is too short to worry about small things, live, love and enjoy life.
    Tomes Edition recently posted..Product Review: Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask…My Profile

  11. Wow what an amazing post! It really gives you so much to think about. Being that my father is of another ethnicity than what most see as “Standard” I grew up in a very diverse culturally accepting family. I watched my father have to go through racism towards him in the workplace and how he always took the high road and showed me too “SEE” all the colors of everyone. We are all beautiful and unless you are blind it should not go unnoticed!! Thanks for sharing! ~Leah~
    Leah Elizabeth Locklear recently posted..“Choretime into Playtime!”My Profile

  12. I see color and I love color. I think people use that term because everyone tries to be so PC – to a fault. I am not offended if you refer to me as the “white woman with red hair”.. that’s a pretty accurate physical description and I would hope that I don’t offend you if I referred to you as a “black woman with a pixie haircut”. I love the differences in race and religion that surround us. We all have cultural differences and we should all share those with each other. I am not a black woman (although I’ll argue that inside every redhead is a black woman trying to get out and vice versa ;) ) so I can’t pretend to understand the racial division that you experience on a daily basis but I can make sure that it will never happen from someone in my family. The color of our skins does not define who we are. How we act does that. Fabulous post.
    Kristen recently posted..Does the Fashion Gene Skip a Generation?My Profile

  13. I read the post & agree! I WANT my color to be seen! I want my gender to be seen. I want all of myself to be seen. To ignore these things is to ignore my identity & is disrespectful of my history. I am more than my outside but it isn’t a terrible place to start in getting to know me. It’s a terrible place to start in judging me.

  14. Of course we all see color. I’ve never thought of it the way you just said it though. It makes things more interesting that we are not all the same, that we come from different backgrounds and cultures. Who a person is inside…how they act and treat others…is what is important, not the color of their skin.
    Michelle recently posted..Creating Custom Cards with Cardstore.comMy Profile

    • I think color differences are interesting as well. Happy I was able to share with you a different way of thinking about it!

  15. As someone who is partially colorblind I’ve never even used that phrase. While I do live in the south, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving, open-minded people of all different shades. I have a relative who HAS used that phrase from time to time and she is married to a black man. We have had disagreements over what I’ve called her “oversensitivity.” It’s definitely a touchy subject that so many people are afraid to broach. I agree that we should recognize and embrace our differences. Thanks for the insight.

  16. When I worked in corporate, people saw color but were always afraid to identify people by their color. It was sometimes funny, because you could see people dancing around in trying to describe a person and if they had just mentioned the person’s color in addition to everything else, the awkward conversation would have ended alot sooner. The people that don’t see color are generally those that are white – I’m not sure why it is so hard for white people to acknowledge the various hues but that has been my experience. I try to remove the discomfort by not being afraid to say black, or white or brown whenever I’m in conversation and this comes. I don’t want anyone to be color blind as it is a deficiency; I want people to see all of me and that includes my color.
    nylse recently posted..The Sound of SilenceMy Profile

    • That’s always funny for me as well. There will be a Black man and instead of saying, “The Black guy.” they will say every other thing you could possible say about him when they could just say his color. I actually don’t know why it’s hard for some either…thanks for commenting.

  17. You hit the nail on the head with this post. People who claim they don’t see color are either lying or are completely delusional. As you wonderfully articulated, it’s so important that we see and appreciate each others’ differences. And you’re also right that so many people in this country don’t want to talk about slavery. So many black people, even. I recently saw “Twelve Years a Slave”. Such a powerful movie. Many black people I know haven’t seen it and don’t want to see it because they’re tired of slave movies. But this movie is told from such a different angle. And while it was sad and depressing, it showed me a different side of our history – blacks who were either born free or who obtained their freedom and were then sold back into slavery. Slavery is a part of our history. It’s nothing that we should feel ashamed of. I’d probably feel more ashamed if my ancestors were the ones inflicting such cruelty on other humans. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I couldn’t have written this post any better myself. Thanks for sharing!
    Dana Carmel recently posted..Thanks for the Travel Memories, Mom & DadMy Profile

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