When I was young, I would say things like “I don’t see color. Everyone is equal”. I was idealistic. I was naïve. My younger self didn’t understand my white privilege. It took years into my adulthood to realize why it’s imperative that I do see color.
The song Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist from the musical Avenue Q sums it up perfectly:
Everyone’s a little bit
Doesn’t mean we go around committing
Look around and
You will find,
No one’s really
Maybe it’s a fact
We all should face.
Based on race.
Most people take pride in saying they are not racist. Most of us don’t want to be racist. The reality is we have been brought up in a society that has embedded stereotypes into our psyche. Our country was built on slavery. We have interacted with older generations who grew up in a different time and unintentionally used words or phrases that are not politically correct and quite honestly never should have been allowed. We would like to believe we know better and are more aware, but it takes a lot of thought and effort to be better. It requires us to admit our ugly racists thoughts. We have to OWN them in order to stop them. It means admitting remarks we’ve heard from loved ones along the way and standing up to others when it’s easier to be quiet. It means risking relationships and accepting that some people will never fully understand. I’ve done the work and it is hard. I still have much more to do.
The world is not color blind, nor should it be. We must see color in order to see the injustices that exist. We can do better. We need to do better.