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On “not seeing” race or gender

Hi Amanda — I don’t know anything about you or your now-former publication, but the thread your post is in kept coming up in my recommendations so I’m responding.

I’m black, but I’m one of those people who used to say “I don’t see color.” I learned that I was wrong, because that’s not the way society works. You see, when I’m walking down the street, passers-by and the police don’t know anything about my personality, my level of education, or my views on life. They just see brown skin. And they are going to treat me differently than someone with white skin based on that and that alone. This is true everywhere in the USA, even where I live, in “liberal” San Francisco, where the police are killing black and brown folks with impunity. This is our reality, and no amount of “we are all one race” will erase it.

I’m also non-binary, and I’m one of those people who used to say “there is no such thing as gender,” and I also questioned the need for feminism. I learned that just because I am agender does not give me the right to strip others of their authentic identities, and that feminism is necessary because of our patriarchal society that elevates (straight cisgender white) men over all others. Also, we can’t “just be men and women” because non-binary people who are neither men nor women also exist.

But more importantly, there is beauty in diversity. Our differences in appearance and culture should be celebrated, not erased. Discrimination and violence against people who have a different physical appearance or expression is what we should do away with.

Finally, if you are white, whether or not you are a racist is not for you to decide. If you feel the need to say “I am not a racist,” that is an excellent clue that the statement you are referring to is, in fact, racist.