Let me start w/ a self disclaimer. Yes, I am an African American however I don't speak for the whole African American community. These are just a few of my own views and experiences.
For the longest I've always been intrigued when someone would say, "I don't see color." I believe people typically mean well by this statement, but I honestly just don't get it. It sounds like something said by someone who may have never had color or race used against them. I've talked w/ family and friends about this and some are just like me and can't stand the phrase, and some say its a cliché way of saying I don't judge or treat people differently based on race. Yes, this is the ideal way to live and our world would be a much better place if we all exhibited this in our actions, but lets be real we DEFINITELY see color.
I think my biggest issue with this statement is, why is it really such a big deal to not see color/race anyways? God created each of us the way he intended and it is beautiful that we come in many different shades. I love being around people of all different cultures and I love seeing our differences. About a year, a little girl who was white, was sitting next to me and she held out her arm to mine smiling and said I'm vanilla and you are chocolate. She wasn't judging or being rude just stating what she saw. We are going to naturally notice what makes us different, but it's what we do with that information and how we should also seek out more importantly, the characteristics that bring us together as one.
My fear at times is preparing my girls for the world that we live in. I desire for them to be surrounded by a diverse group of people. I teach them to love and treat everyone with respect but I can't control what others may be teaching their own children. If you don't believe race still affects the world then maybe it's because it just doesn't affect your life and that's all that matters. I get frustrated when people say that someone is "playing the race card." For many, unfortunately it is their reality. Over the past couple of months I've seen many articles about the rise in hate groups and that Tennessee ranks fourth among states with the most hate groups. You and I may not be the ones contributing to this divide, but we can't pretend as if it is not affecting someone, somewhere, closer than you may think.
I recently watched a documentary about race in America and it showed an old clip with black children being asked questions about white and black dolls. The kids would point to the black dolls for any negative description (which doll is ugly, bad, etc) and point to the white dolls for all the positive descriptions (which doll is pretty, good, smart, etc). This was heartbreaking and disturbing to watch. Well shortly after I saw this, an elderly neighbor brought by some dolls she was getting rid of. There were two white dolls w/ colorful nice dresses and hats and one black infant doll. The black doll had wrinkly infant skin, no hair, and just a plain white shirt and diaper on. No frills or accessories. I showed the dolls to my daughters (no questions asked) and I kid you not both of my girls fought over the little black doll. Although trivial in the grand scheme of things my heart was warmed especially after seeing that documentary clip because my girls seemed to have positive feelings towards the black doll.
I pray that my girls choose their friends and people they associate with, not based on color but based on character and morals. This is what I mimic to them in my own life, however this doesn't change the fact that I absolutely see color on a daily basis. Trust me, I know when I'm the only black person in the room. I see color every time I drop my daughter off at her Mother's Day out program. Its an excellent program filled with Christ's love, with little to no diversity when it comes to students and staff. I've seen color my whole life in church. I'd say every church setting I've ever been apart of has either been predominantly black or predominantly white, with little to no diversity in members or staff. I chose my college to attend and my Sorority to join because it was Historically Black filled w/ deep rich history and culture. Color unfortunately even determines when driving out of town, whether or not I will stop off at an exit for gas late at night in a small southern town I don't know.
I'm not at all complaining about my situation as they make up some of the very unique parts of my life. So what can we do to move forward? Ask yourself how often do you expose yourself to anyone of a different race, religion, and/or economic background than yourself outside of work or places you have to be? Although uncomfortable at times its a blessing to get outside of your comfort zone. Instead of making assumptions, maybe ask a person of a different race what affects their lives and be open to understanding. The conversations don't have to always be about race however its always refreshing to me to be around people, who even if race doesn't affect them personally, can understand and be sympathetic that it does affect others. It's humbling to me for them to be open about what they have experienced and seen themselves and I appreciate it. Yes, I see color everyday but I can't let it define me nor affect how I show the love of Christ to others.