Colour-blind is the term that is referred to those that say they don’t recognize the race of anyone and that they value everyone equally. Have you ever noticed that the folks who say this are White? Why do you think that is?
I found myself getting irritated when I heard this statement recently. I wanted to say, well isn’t that easy for you to say as a member of the mainstream? Isn’t that generous of you offering equality from the comfort of your position!
Can you try to imagine for 2 minutes what it is like to be careful about what you say and do all day long, on the subway, on the bus, at the hockey game, or buying groceries? Can you imagine stepping lightly, as if on egg shells doing each of these activities? Often we use the term “walking on eggshells” to describe living with an addict, someone who has mental illness, or in a relationship where there is a power imbalance. It is used to describe an extremely dysfunctional emotional environment. It is used to describe a situation where at least one of the members is on a constant state of dread that the other will make them feel less-than, disregarded, rejected, incompetent or worse – afraid.
Walking on eggshells is a good description of someone who feels that they do not belong and are not valued or accepted.
To say that you are colour-blind is to cancel out any of these feelings that the people on the bus are experiencing while you are looking at them.
I’m not looking to use guilt on you. What I am talking about is a point of view that you are, perhaps, unaware of. The origin of ignorant comes from the 14th century and means "lacking wisdom or knowledge; unaware”. If you are ignorant or unaware of the impact of colour-blindness, it’s one thing. But now that you are aware that there are other ways to look at this, what will you do or say to those people on the bus?
What tools can you use to inquire into how others are experiencing your whiteness? Be it on the bus, in the grocery store, or at a school meeting? How can your awareness shift to meet these situations respectfully? In what way(s) can you help others to understand that they do not need to walk on eggshells in your presence?
I’m working on ways to support folks like you on these questions in a course on Awakening to Whiteness. You’ll be hearing more about the course in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, it helps to carve out time for reflection each day when you’re doing this inner work. If you seek accountability for your meditation practice, check out my online course: