Elizabeth Broadbent, Your Tango, January 17, 2022
You mean well. You say it in every article about race:
“I’m raising my kids to be colorblind.”
“We don’t see race.”
“If we just all stopped seeing race everything would be a lot better.”
You believe in America, opportunity, and why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along. You judge not-by-the-color-of-their-skin-but-by-the-content-of-their-character. You type it again and again, in anger at the accusations you hear behind the discussions. Seeing race is racist, you insist. But you don’t say racist against whom.
You want to believe. You deeply, desperately cling to the Lady Liberty lullaby: we are all equal; we all have the same opportunities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America the Beautiful believes in bootstraps and pulling itself up by them — like you did, like your father/uncle/grandfather/mother did.
Colorblindness is an integral part of that belief. After all, justice is blind.
But what you really say when you insist on raising your kids to be colorblind is this: We don’t want to see race. Or, more accurately, we want to ignore race.
When you ignore race, the default color becomes white. Colorblindness really means whitewashing.
This is not just about you being a racist. It’s about reaching a place of healing, an understanding of another point of view.
Black people don’t raise their children to be colorblind. Neither do Hispanic parents or Asian parents. Only white people can claim they want their children “not to see race.” Other parents, you see, don’t have the luxury of ignoring it.
When you teach colorblindness, you teach your children to discount the stories of the people around them.
Colorblindness asks why we need a Black History Month. If there’s no color, there’s no sense that history is written by the victors, that there are deep gaps in our stories. It asks why we don’t have a White History Month because everyone is equal.
Colorblindness dresses Kindergarteners in construction-paper feathers on Thanksgiving. It accepts Columbus Day as a holiday about intrepid exploring and discovery. It forgets the Taino people, some of the first victims of the Native American genocide.
Colorblindness blames the preschool-to-prison pipeline on rotten families, on degenerated culture — on anything but historical inequality and abuse.
It’s not blindness; blindness is involuntary. Colorblindness is a mask.