Here in the United States there are some people who believe we live in a “post racist” society. Apparently even some of my fiends on social media believe this to be true. It always amazes me when I see comments such as “I am not racist, but…” or “I believe this….but”, etc. That “but” says a lot about how you really feel inside, whether you know it or not. While explicit racism is not as common as it once was, (although in the past 8 months it has become more common), implicit racism is very common.
So then “what is implicit racism?” Let me explain. Explicit racism is overt, obvious……using the N word, talking openly about people who are not white, or Christian, or middle class as being “less than” or not as good as the person who is doing the speaking. Shouting Nazi slogans walking down a street in Virginia. Openly being a member of the KKK. These people are open about their dislike for non whites, or homosexuals, or Jews or Muslims. It is easy to see and hear their racist beliefs and we can choose to avoid them, if we don’t want to be exposed to that bullshit.
Implicit racism is not obvious, and are usualy thoughts or stereotypes or biases we believe and act on, whether we are aware of it or not. Such as crossing the street if we see a black man walking on our side of the street, clutching our purse a little tighter, thinking poor people are “lazy”, or just don’t try “hard enough” to get themselves out of poverty. Thinking or speaking as if the world would be better if we all “just took Jesus Christ into or hearts”. Or that children would be better off in a heterosexual home.
I see another form of bias these days. Some people want to be seen as nonbiased, or NOT racist, so they say things like “I don’t see color when I look at people.” Or “I am colorblind.” Let me tell you why I think this is a ridiculous statement.
Now before you get your undies in a bunch, and get mad at me for “callng people oyt”, let me say that I DO understand what they mean, but I think by saying they don’t “see color” they are actually devaluing diversity and differences. There are cultural differences (in my humble opinion) between races. They may be small, but they are there. I think these differences should be celebrated, not done away with. Cultural diversity (in fact ALL diversity) makes the tapestry of humanity more colorful and vibrant, it doesn’t detract from that. Why would we want everyone to be the same??? What an incredibly boring world that would be!!
So I am going to say I DO see color when I see people. I see all the beautiful shades of skin tone, and hair color and hair texture. I see eye color, and body size, and fully-abled or less-abled bodies. I see gender, whether male, or female or other. I see age, and sometimes I can see wealth or poverty. I see all of those things when I look at people. That doesn’t make me a racist. It makes me observant.
In my opinion, the problem is not in seeing our differences, but in assigning stereotypes and biases to the people we see based on what we see. To assume when we see a black person that the color of their skin somehow tells us something about their character is the problem. To see an Asian person and assume they are good at math is the problem. To see a brown person and assume they are not hard working is the problem. To place stereotypes and bias on a person merely by looking at them IS THE PROBLEM!! This does not just apply to the color or “hue” of someone’s skin, but also their gender, their physical bodies, their mental abilities, their sexuality, age, religion, etc!
Think about it, we can’t even assume that a person with darker pigmented skin is “african”. They may be of Caribbean, or African, or Middle Eastern, or indigenous heritage. They may be biracial, or multiracial. We can assume very little about someone based on external appearances. Assumptions and assigning stereotypes is the enemy, NOT seeing their “color”.
I think if we do want to truly become a post racist society we really need to think about this, and start valuing all humans for their differences, not try to make all humans the same. Do you “see color” when you look at people?
Go ahead and “see” a person’s color, and celebrate it! Move past bias and stereotypes and get to know the person, no matter what they look like on the outside. Find something of value in them, and remove the stereotype! THEN maybe we can become the post racist society I dream of!
I Am Not Color Blind, Are You?