What you erase when you say “I don’t see color”

Spoiler alert: it’s me.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

--

It’s a conversation I’ve had to have many times. Often with people who I think are at least friendlies, if not friends, with disastrous results.

They want me to come live in their unicorn fairyland where it rains Skittles and kittens poop rainbows. Their favorite fairyland is colorblindness.

I wish I could live in that universe sometimes but I can’t. Reality bites me.

“But I don’t see color.”

My favorite version of this is when I have described someone on social media by their race when their race is the same as mine. Inevitably, in public or in private, someone will wonder “aloud” why we can’t just remove color from the conversation.

First of all, no one invited you to my conversation.

You can explore any ideas you have on your own page on your own time. Or at least go to the trouble of finding a thread/essay where I’m addressing that.

This is a classic microagression: the assumption that you get to drive other people’s conversations. You say you want to be colorblind while using your privilege to attempt to silence someone else, where it is neither the time or place for that debate.

Secondly, we people of color did not wake up one day and make a conscious decision that we should start talking about color or race. It is imposed on us by those who would oppress us, be it the system, the institution, or conversation we’re in.

We chose to interweave the fictional social constructs of race in with our preceding or existing culture, part as a way to turn what was universally thought to be negatives about us in Western culture, into a positive.

That we embrace the construct of our race as a positive does not mean we see others as a negative. After all we have multiple examples of what that failure looks like.

So when you show up and arbitrarily decide we should remove that from the conversation?

You’re not seeing us or respecting us.

If you’re not seeing color, it’s me you don’t see.

--

--

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

I write short posts laughing about the mess that is me. And long researched essays on being a better citizen of The World. We’re not free until we’re all free.