And I fully believe that the statement is made to declare their support for persons of color and as their effort towards being ‘anti-racist.’ However, for a person of color it may mean a lot more than the intention of the person saying it. Sometimes, in our effort to help we end up saying or doing things that cause more harm than help. Even statements and expressions that were acceptable in the past may have a different meaning now. As we grow and learn, and as the work around racial justice expands we learn new things, so it is important for all of us to be mindful of that, and to continue to learn. I recently read an article in which the author shares that to persons of color “I don’t see color" may say, I don’t:
- Recognize and respect the unique experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color
- Acknowledge the sacred humanity of all people, including the sacredness of all skin colors, hair textures, eye shapes, and languages
- Celebrate the racial, cultural differences as gifts from God.
You can read Eun Jin “Jinny” Kim’s full statement here but I invite us to do the best we can to be the best allies we can be.
Sometimes we do not understand the explanation given to us, or is not enough for us. Here is the thing- because it is not our experience- chances are we WILL NOT fully understand it! If we are rich, we will never know what poor feels like, if we are heterosexual, we will never understand what being homosexual is like, and if we are white we will never know what it is to not be white! All we can do is to trust the other person and be willing to make changes in how we express our support for other people. By justifying our position, and/or our reason for saying, “I don’t see color,” we might be conveying to the other person that we truly do not intend to see you, hear you, or understand you. As allies our intention must not be to justify ourselves but to support the other person and make them feel seen and heard.