You're Not Colorblind, You Just Want to Feel Comfortable
I remember when I was in college, a friend of mine (and I say this loosely) said he didn't see me as being black. To him, I was simply Malynda: Malynda the singer, the friend, the follower of Christ. He didn't see color when it came to me or anyone else. He saw the person. At the time I thought it was sweet. I thought, How cool. Finally someone sees me for me, and not my race. But what I didn't realize then was that in him saying that, he wasn't acknowledging a part of myself that I was proud of.
I've always been proud to be black, even when the world told me not be. I've never hidden my blackness or tried to. I've never tried to make anyone see me as less black. If anything, the older I've gotten, the more I've wanted to make it known. So when I started to hear phrases like "I don't see color" or "I'm color blind", it started to bother me because I wanted that part of me to be seen.
The notion of being colorblind and not seeing color is one that's intended to have a positive impact. But in reality it does more harm than good. When someone says they are colorblind, the intention behind the statement is to imply that they don't judge people by the color of their skin. And that intention is great! But why isn't it possible to acknowledge someone's color without judging them? By saying you are colorblind, you are actually disrespecting another human being by not acknowledging a part of who that person is. Our heritage, background and history are all components of what makes us who we are, but claiming to not see any of that erases a part of a person's identity.
Where people tend to get confused in saying that they're colorblind is in thinking it's a "cure" for racism. Well if I don't see color, can't we all just live as human beings and be happy together? Not exactly. Because by saying you don't see color you are actually perpetuating racism and not being part of the solution. You are refusing to see it because it makes you feel comfortable. By saying you don't see color, you are erasing the experiences of people of color and ironically participating in a view that is one of privilege and hierarchy.
Colorblindness refuses to grapple with the fact that racism still exists socially and systemically. Colorblindness refuses to see people how they want to be seen. Colorblindness refuses to force people to get comfortable with differences. Instead, it boasts of making everyone the same when reality is that we are not. By saying you are colorblind, you are choosing to not see someone's color so that you can relate to them easier.
So instead of making the decision to not see someone's color, see it. Celebrate it. Acknowledge it. Just don't make judgments based on it. Don't assume you can't relate to someone of a different hue. And don't for one second think that claiming to be colorblind will solve the global problem that is racism. It's easy to say you don't see color, but it's harder to know that we as a people have to take responsibility for dismantling systems that made color a problem in the first place.
Malynda Hale is a recording artist, actress, business owner and activist. With her roots in music and theatre, Malynda has always been connected to the arts. The singer/songwriter uses both her music and involvement in social justice issues to start important conversations. Her passion for using her voice to effect change on multiple platforms social justice, female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, veganism, and the Black Lives Matter movement is how #WeNeedToTalk came to be.
She’s the former co-host of the femme empowerment “Boss, Please” podcast, which shines a light on female execs and all-around girl bosses, and the current host of the #WeNeedToTalk Podcast that releases new episodes every Monday. She currently serves as a worship leader at Harmony Toluca Lake where she leads a bi-monthly discussion group called "Courageous Conversations" that focuses on social justice topics from a Christian perspective. She is an avid promoter of a lifestyle centered around a plant-based diet and has been a vegan for over a decade. Malynda has already touched the lives of many people and will continue to do so with her music and actions.