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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 3, Thread 26.

1. Colorblindness
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 3:14 PM/EST
ethie'sgirl

I've been reading a book about teaching reading comprehension and came across a great line today that made me think of all of you.

"I began to realize that asking the tough questions and providing a venue for conversation about them is, perhaps, our most important work."
(Ellin Oliver Keene)

I couldn't wait to share that. I started thinking about questions that I haven't asked yet, and the first thing that came to mind is the whole idea of colorblindness.

When I was in high school, colorblindness seemed to mean that no one had to acknowledge that I was in any way different. But it also meant that they said really unbelievable things to and around me because they never thought they were doing anything inappropriate. Someone once told me that she didn't like Mick Jagger because he had "those nasty nigger lips." And when I looked at her in shock, it took her a while to figure out what I was upset about. "OH! But you know, you're not really even black," she explained. Because, you know, she was colorblind.

Today I have three friends whose sole mission seems to be to fix me up with a nice guy and marry me off as soon as is humanly -- or humanely? :) -- possible. Nevermind how I feel about that; that's a whole other topic. Their efforts, however, are problematic. They spend a lot of time describing me to these potential husbands, but they NEVER tell these men that I am black. When asked why they leave out this "detail," they say "because it doesn't matter," or "because we never think of that." You know, because they are colorblind. And on the one hand I know there's something good in this -- that they love me for who I am and all that. But on the other hand ... how realistic is it for them to think my blackness doesn't matter, for them to assume that it won't matter to some guy they want to fix me up with?
I'm not exactly sure where I'm heading with this, what question I want to pose. This whole issue is just one that is always coming back to the forefront of my consciousness. Can there really be such a thing a colorblindness? Does there need to be? Do I want there to be?

3. Wow tough question--you sure do ask them don't you?
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 6:40 PM/EST
bethanie

NO there is no such thing as colorblindness. At least not in my world. I say this having been around black people in some way most of my life. In high school, my very best friends were black, and I generally spent more time with their families--I felt safer there--than with my own. I have dated black men over the years at different points in my life. and in this case I will allow, I just always dated the men I most enjoyed the experience of being with. I just dated the people who most interested me and kept me in good conversation. So to an extent, I kind of felt that is the closest I came to color blindness--in my dating relationships. I say I don't think it's possible because other people always remind me of color (lest I forget that I am married to a black man, I never need look far for some reminder from someone).

6. Seems to Me
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 8:04 PM/EST
dorothy

That color should not matter, but as Ethiesgirl said, it does matter to a great many people whether a propective date is white or black, or green or red too. Your friends may not "see" you as black (or white, etc.) but other people will and do.

For the past 25 years I have been writing to a black woman in South Africa. We have never met and only spoken on the phone a couple of times yet she is one of my "dearest" friends. Certainly race is a big thing in her country but I truly never think of her as being any color, and never did. To me, she is just a friend who has been through many of my life crisis through letters we've shared. She is always the first person to send me a birthday card or holiday greeting. In all these years of correspondence we have never exchanged gifts of any sort, other than gifts of friendship and caring. She's been through my divorce a few years ago and I so wanted her to come to my recent remarriage. We always said when one married, the other would have to visit, so I figure she "owes" me 2 trips. Realistically, we know that distance and costs may delay an in-person visit. Ironically a co-worker of mine went to South Africa a couple of years ago and looked up my friend and was able to meet with her. I so wish that it could have been me!

7. color matters
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 9:05 PM/EST
angie

I must admit that one compliment that I cherish from some black co-worker/friends once is "You're not white, you're just Angie." So what does that make me, opaque?, I've always wondered. I think having friends of other races really helps encourage the good kind of colorblindness, where you really don't see them in terms of color. But one has to be careful not to develop the bad kind, like the illustration above where a friend made a racist remark.

I think that color does matter in this society in both good and bad ways. The bad way is when people are judged poorly because of it, only by the shade of their flesh. The good way is when one can say yes I'm black (latino, etc.) and this is my ethnicity and history and it's a good thing.

Hopefully, in this society we will be able to work toward a time when colorblindness will not be necessary. When being of a certain ethnicity characterized by dark skin will just be an ethnic difference, not a political difference that plays itself out in racism. Until then, a certain amount of colorblindness is probably a good thing to implement.

As I was writing this, my boyfriend wandered by and inquired about the topic. When I told him colorblindness, he made the following comment, which I thought was astute enough to include: "Only those who are not forced to see people in terms of color (i.e., the majority) can even make the choice of being colorblind, therefore the whole notion of 'colorblindness' is a position of privilege."

Hmmm...

8. I do see color
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 9:39 PM/EST
smoothtap

I understand what everyone’s saying but I don't see it the same way. I see all the different shades of color because it is a physical part of who we are. There are to many beautiful shades of skin color to omit it. No matter what we do we will still see it everyday. It's not the color that’s the problem it is our perception of what it means. You can say "There's another black girl over there" or you can say, "That's a beautiful black woman standing there". The first phrase suggested she was an annoyance or problem and the later describes a woman most men would want to be with. Skin color is just like hair color or eye color and it's time we treat it as such, a physical description and not a social one.

9. here, here, smoothtap
Tue, Sep 21, 1999 - 11:40 PM/EST
jacqueline

I truly could not have said it better. As I was scrolling through the posts, I was thinking to myself, "that's a good point, but my take is a little different. . ." Then I read your post and it was as though you were livin' in my brain.

Well said.

J

11. colorblind
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 7:13 AM/EST
susanv

is something that I think is impossible. As smoothtap said, we are all different shades of color. By the way, that was perfectly said.

Maybe white people need to get past that fear of describing someone as black, afraid of labeling that person.

12. Don't want to be colorblind...
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 10:25 AM/EST
preciousswf

I always felt that saying you are colorblind is like saying there is something wrong with being a different skin color. Like saying it's not ok to notice it in a positive way. I don't ever want to be colorblind! I love, cherish and enjoy seeing different colors of skin...from milky white, to the deepest brown...

I think it's part of our makeup, and, like smooth said, it's a physical, not a social identity. I think we should never be colorblind, but enjoy, and see the different colors. Imagine how dull our world would be if we looked the same?!

13. color blindness- Strictly my own oppinion.
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 10:41 AM/EST
antionette

The underlining intent of color blindness, I belive, is to show a lack of negative judgement based on color. I do not believe that the whites who are attempting to be racially accepting of all people are comfortabel discribing color in such obvious ways as you suggest. It is though we fear that it will be misinterpeted as a judgement of color.

I agree that we have been made with a wonderful palate of physical attributes and that each one should be celebrated. But in saying each one, we must recognize that fear, guilt and blame do not serve this purpose, (the underlying cause of racism), and be able to celebrate all cultures and skin colors. All societies in history have participated in the mistreatment of others to some degree. There are no societal saints.

We have all had the oportunity to express each culture and race experience through our Souls journey. And if that is not part of your belief system, then we have all experienced each other through the grace of God. It is a strong belief of mine that we need to recognize our inter-conectiveness, and celebrate our individual ablities to be expressions of God.

Sorry if this sounds too idealic, but, it is how I feel. I also know that there is fear in taking the leap of celebrating ourselves and others. For many , including me sometimes, it is just hard to 'wrap our brains around' in seeing all peoples as correct for thier path. Our experiences are integral to our Souls growth and when we out grow that need we move on to something new.

14. Antoinette...
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 11:51 AM/EST
bethanie

I think this was what I was trying to get at in my orriginal post. That on first coming to Seattle, it was very difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I would be living in the black community. That fear was not based on any negative feelings I had about black people, but the shear intimidation of being surrounded by strangers that might or might not have accepted me or the color of my skin. I think perhaps we all feel this to some extent (please feel free to correct me). Those were the feelings I had to get past on my journey...my assumptions about the way I would be treated. I think this is one of the things society has taught us..that we will not be accepted by people of another race, and I think this is one of the big barriers that stands between us and a true appreciation of color. But again, I could be off base, and this is just my humble opinion.

B

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