Recently I felt the harsh reality of discrimination in our proud educational institution. I was tasked with an assignment in which I had to seek out colors in my surroundings that matched a paint swatch generously donated by the Home Depot. However, I am an individual that suffers from Red-Green color defficiency and therefore decree this assignment to be unacceptable. However, I don’t think I’m protected by the ADA, so I had to try my best to complete this ableist task.
At the home depot, I waded my through seas of uncompromising colors, all of which looked redundant to my incapable self. I ended up picking “Sun Rays” and “Neon Blue” which looked yellow and purple, respectively. With the demonizing pieces of paper in hand, I set out to find their matches.
My journey led me to the Lincoln Park Zoo, a place that overflows with bright colors. It was approximately 3:00 PM on a Tuesday, and the zoo was far from overflowing. As soon as I walked in I found out that the zoo was in the midst of its annual “fall festival”, and I walked over to carefully inspect the various gourds for the perfect yellow.
Bingo. My very first attempt ws a total success (I think). I suffered through the confused looks of the other guests as I compared my paint swatch to random objects in the zoo, as if I were planning on renovating the place.
That said, the looks I got as I forced myself into this children’s prop for a picture with my paint were far, far worse. Apparently there is maximum age for corn, and I was far exceeding that. I paused to think about my decisions as I sweat my face off in the surprisingly warm day, and the surprisingly unnecessary coat.
In the famed lion house of the zoo, I found this proud lion poster beaming down on the room. I endured the thick smell of ammonia in order to take this beautiful photo. I paused and stared at the sad-looking jaguar enclosure. I wonder if cats are colorblind…
I moved on to “Neon Blue”, which was considerably harder because it is a weird shade of blue/purple that is not very common in the zoo. I aimlessly worked my way through the zoo in search of the target and then…
BAM! Right above this angry-looking orangutan’s face was the exact shade of blurple I was looking for probably. I slammed down my swatch on the sticky child-worn surface and grabbed my picture before this orangutan attacked.
I looked around everywhere for another example of my elusive hue, but I could find nothing. I had nearly given up all hope when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted this sign under the cloudy gray sky.
In that moment I realized that we are given a choice in life. To accept our limitations, or to push past them. All you high-and-mighty distinct color-seers thought that I couldn’t do it. You thought that because I am hindered by the conical sensors in my eyes, I couldn’t match these paint-swatches. Well I did it, World! I beat my limitations, and you can too.
A map is merely a guide. A tool of reference for navigation. They are not surrogates for the actual experience of being in a place. Though I have seen maps of Paris, London and Rome, I have never had the pleasure being on their streets. I have never witnessed the cities. Maps show us where, but they do not convey how. We make maps to create a sense of order about the world, because our natural view of it is chaotic. If I tried to make a map of the world without seeing the maps that exist today, I would be entirely lost, as my truest understanding of geography consists only of my immediate surroundings. In many ways, maps are misleading. They depict the world from above, despite the fact that we only witness the world from the ground-up. The earth is just too big for the human mind, and so we squeeze it into maps to understand it.