While in the Caribbean with my parents over spring break, we had a discussion about race, more specifically the fact that we feel very cognizant of the race of the person we are talking to. The people on the island were also very much aware of our race. So much so that they were very sure that my father was or is a movie star. He is in fact not a movie star, though I’m sure he’s still reciting this story to everyone. I, however, was jealous that people didn’t think I was the celebrity. I hadn’t given this much thought until I became the minority in Nevis. Truthfully, I was embarrassed that I was so aware of race. I felt racist and I didn’t know what that said about me.
Sitting in the car, I admitted this awareness and the attached guilt. However, as my dad pointed out, someone who is racist demonstrates discrimination against people of another race. I quickly realized that while I’m conscious of a person’s race, it in no way affects my attitude towards them or my ability to converse.
So, while I’m not as color blind as I had previously thought, nor am I as color blind as I’d like to be, but I’m not racist.
I recently read this story about two young boys of different races. The two boys decided to get the same haircut in order to trick their teacher. Frankly, I was mesmerized. These two boys were truly blind to their differences, their friendship was the only thing of importance to either child.
I hope our society transforms into one full of people like these two boys. I hope we maintain the value of different cultures but become blind to this constant awareness of race that inadvertently promotes inequality. However, if we don’t talk about it, how will we change and grow as a society?
Can you train yourself to become color blind or is it something that is taught at birth? Yet, this poses another question: what are the possible negative results that might come with being color blind? Some people would say there are no benefits to being color blind. In fact, my friend claims that most people claim to be color blind to hide their own prejudices. Would we lose appreciation for different cultures? What about cultural appropriation? As my friend recently commented, cultural appropriation can be detrimental to the culture being appropriated.
So, I remain lost. What’s the happy medium between being color blind and being fully aware of a person’s race? Moreover, how do we get there?