The Well Meaning Racism of “Color Blindness”

Topic: Ethnic Conciliation/Reconciliation, Ethnic Reconciliation

America has attempted to heal the wound of racism by adopting a concept called colorblindness. This is a well-intentioned attempt to combat racism. Racism is birthed out of the idea that one ethnicity is superior to another. Color-blindness is an attempt to reject this ideology by not “seeing” color. It attempts to avoid racism by removing its source, color. Sadly, the implications of this attempt actually feed the very thing it is seeking to starve. Color-blind ideology assumes that the problem is color. It presents the argument that the answer to racism is for people not to see color. What this does, is it normalizes “whiteness” and presents color as a problem that needs to be ignored or overcome. In other words, unity is contingent upon not seeing a person of color’s color rather than through changing white people’s hearts towards the colors they see in an image bearer of God. Color-blind ideology  also requires a person of color to deny their color in order to be unified with the dominant culture. Color-blind ideology is oppressive because it demands people of color (especially black people) reject an element of who they are in order to appease the “color” bias’ of others.

The answer to racism is not colorblindness. The answer to racism is to embrace a worldview that says diversity is beautiful. As a Christian Counselor, I often encourage my counselees to be more aware of the graces and successes in another than they are of the shortcomings and failures. Similarly, America’s problem is that it is more aware of ethnic and cultural differences than it is of the unity we all share as image bearers. The festering wound of racism will never be cured in America until we begin to see beauty in diversity and glory in our unity. When I was a child, there were books called “Magic Eye.” The books had various pictures in them filled with a variety of beautiful patterns of color. Behind all the colors was an image, and if you stared hard enough At the image, you could see it behind all the diversity of the colorful page. Racism isn’t cured through the denial of color. We must not ignore differences; we must embrace them and look hard enough so that we can see the picture behind them, the manifold wisdom of God.