“Colorblindness is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity.” – Monnica T. Williams, Ph.D.
I was 11-years-old when I started school in South Florida. I had moved there from Virginia Beach, which had two military bases and families from all different backgrounds. I had friends who were Black, White, Biracial, Asian, Hispanic, etc. If you asked me if I treated them all the same, I would have said a resounding yes before now, but that’s not the truth. It would’ve been a resounding yes because the difference in atmosphere between the racial diversity there versus in my elementary school in South Florida, was tension. And ultimately division, and that was not something I had experienced in my hometown of the “Big VA” – to quote Timbaland.
I am guilty of having stated, “I did not see color until I moved to Florida.” And for that ignorant remark, I am sorry. I understand my regret and apology for saying that does not negate me from having said it, but I want to be completely honest and share what I have learned and how I am willing to learn and even re-learn.
With all of my friends, I have always shared music. It was the 90’s and in my opinion one of the best times in music for my lifetime. I can appreciate music prior to my existence, but that brings a whole separate topic. So as music being the commonality, not with every friend did we listen to the same stuff. With my Christian White friend next door, it was Muppet singalongs and Christian songs. With my White friend behind me, it was pop like 4 Non Blondes and sometimes her dad would put on Nine Inch Nails. With my Black friends, we listened to and performed dance concerts to Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, and Madonna. The list goes on.
Yes, I had an array of friends in Virginia Beach. I was who I was – the annoying little girl who always wanted to play or hang out – but I adapted to them as they adapted to me. We saw color but were not taught to shy away from it or to hate it. We, naturally as kids, came to know one another and share our differences and our similarities without bias.
When I started school in South Florida, there was a lot of tension and anger between Black and White children. I’m not saying I came from the land of Paradise where everyone loved one another, but this was not something I had expected. I heard more racial slurs and derogatory remarks on my first day of school than I had in the years I schooled in Virginia.
To this day, it is still like this in South Florida. However, to ignore racial, ethnic, or cultural differences will not appease the tension. Morgan Freeman said the way to end racism was to stop talking about it. And that sounds intelligent on a certain level, but when one really looks at the idea, it’s not. It’s better on paper. If we purposely fail to acknowledge culture, ethnicity, color, and individuals for the things and traits that make them who they are, it’s stripping them from their identity like taking away their name and classifying them as what they aren’t. Also, suffice to say it, it’s representing them as to how we choose to perceive them, just like it is when we do have racist or biased ideas to who people are based on color, culture or creed.
If we stop pushing forward to really see each other and celebrate our differences and similarities, we will continue to a path that is full of tension and anger and lacks the beauty of diversity.
Feel free to leave any comment you like about this. My comments are moderated so if it offends my white privilege, I’ll spam it. HAH! I kid. Really, leave a comment because I am on this planet to learn so if you have something to say, say it. Many voices are better than one.