I have broke free from colorblindness

Michael J,
Boston, MA

I used to be colorblind. I was taught all about equality. I wasn’t even allowed to say black or white. Sounds great right? At the same time society was feeding me prejudice, but under the guise as “calling it as one sees it”. It was hearing the “I’m not racist, but…” followed by some sort of racist prejudice or stereotype. It was very confusing but I didn’t know any better. I had no clue about BLM and even did the same knee-jerk All Lives Matter response as other whites. But the more I heard about BLM and the cry for equal justice and treatment in society, the more I felt that my colorblindness was preventing me from seeing something. I decided to figure this whole thing out. I wanted to clearly listen to the black community so I attended a college lecture put on by black scholars and black community leaders about BLM. My mind was blown. I was sitting in a sea of white faces, me included, listening to a side of life I never heard of. Whites just like myself were asking the most innocent and daring questions to figure out BLM and racism, it was all new to me. It changed my life. Since then I have attended more lectures, attended workshops on how to talk about racism, and have read stacks of books on the topic and it’s various aspects. I am now fully aware of the hidden nasty racist things about our nation’s past that are not taught or talked about in school/society; I learned how all these hidden truths of the past have shaped today; I can now see racism still at work in our nation. We traded open racism such as segregation and Jim Crow laws for colorblindness in order to continue racism under another name. I now have had very long conversations with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers about racism. Some of the conversations and dialogue are constructive, some end in an impasse, and other conversations go completely sideways. Being white, I feel the responsibility to teach my fellow whites about racism. To engage in dialogue and educate about racism, I now listen for subtle or not so subtle clues of racism during conversations. Never in a million years would I have known that this white introvert would stand up against racism and engage another person in racial conversation. Sadly, I have learned that white Americans need lots of help and education. Many have colorblindness and don’t know there is an issue and some don’t care to learn. It’s exhausting, and at times frustrating, to tell someone about a problem that they don’t believe exists. …and then there are those who harbor and promote racist thoughts. Sigh.

 

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