General Question

resmc's avatar

Do you consider yourself to be 'colorblind' [in the racial sense] - why or why not? Or alternately, what're your views on 'colorblindness'?

Asked by resmc (749points) March 31st, 2009

My views on this are relatively strong [mostly since this isn’t a topic many of us tend to explore enough to develop really decided opinions], so i’ll wait for others to share before adding my take.

The topic was brought to mind by NPR’s segment today on two common approaches to diversity in workplaces, and Jiminez’s recent question on multiculturalism.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

I don’t believe in being ‘color blind’.
I believe in seeing others differences and accepting them.

It’s the difference between the two common themes: Salad Bowl and Mixing Pot.
In the Mixing Pot we are mixed in and are all the same and therefore equal.
In the Salad Bowl we are all different (some of us cucumbers, some of us tomatos, etc..) but we are mixed together into something enjoyable. We accept each others differences but they still exist.

syz's avatar

Only Stephen Colbert is colorblind.

asmonet's avatar

I’m just collar blind.

Haha, @syz: I totally photoshop my friends into posing with him on a regular basis.

Emelo123's avatar

i aqree with Redpowerlady.

rawpixels's avatar

LOL, great answer

resmc's avatar

@RedPowerLady Very well said!

Any thoughts on recognizing that differences in [various types of] power and opportunity that can go along with humanity being a salad bowl?

fireside's avatar

I like that analogy, RedPowerLady.

I’d like to think that I am pretty accepting of diversity.
I may be a suburban white kid, but my best friend is half Vietnamese and half African-American. My first job out of school had me working with Latinos, African-Americans, African immigrants, Asian-Americans, Asian immigrants, as well as people from similar backgrounds to my own.

We all got the job done and there wasn’t much tension between the different ethnicity. Sure there was some complaint because the upper management was primarily not minorities, but i suspect that if you took the ethnicity out of it, that same tension would have been there anyway just because of a salary differential.

Now I’m a Baha’i and I interact regularly with former Jews, former Christians, former Buddhists, former Muslims and former Atheists.

I’m not sure that I agree that mixing cultures makes people less engaged in the workplace and I wonder how they determined that in the study cited by NPR.

Amoebic's avatar

I think the idea of “color-blind” (I don’t see color!) is disingenuous. I think we generally do notice racial differences and assess the stereotypes associated with them…and hopefully dismiss such stereotypes as the bullshit that they generally are.

I know it’s splitting hairs, but I’ve always been a little irritated by the notion that people “don’t see” color. Of course you see it…you just don’t care. It’s also something that can come across as a little…I dunno, unintentionally dismissive, as well as presumptive towards the idea that noticing racial differences is automatically a bad thing.

I do not consider myself to be “color-blind” because I feel that our outsides are a part of who we are, and our colors and shapes should be embraced just as openly as what is within because that has also played a part in developing who we are, which I feel is paramount.

Thank goodness for “go back one page” and cut-n-paste – I’d posted this before it was modded and freaked out a little. I dislike losing writing : D

Jack79's avatar

no, not entirely blind, I think I do notice what colour someone is. But I don’t care. I have no problem that my daughter’s best friend is black, and I adore the guy, because he’s a great kid and treats her nice. But at the same time I try to avoid his sister, and would prefer my daughter to only play with him if possible.

When I was a kid I was naive enough to think all black people were kind and friendly, which almost got me killed once. A belief that is just as racist as thinking they are all criminals. People come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes, and so do their souls. I have never seen a significant connection between colour and any other characteristic.

rooeytoo's avatar

If I had answered this question 5 years ago, I would have said yes I was color blind or at least that I take people on a one at a time basis, I did not make generalized judgements based on ethnicity. However I have lived for the last 4 years in an area which is forcing me to struggle to maintain that position. The government, in order to assuage its guilt over previous policies and behaviors, has swung the pendulum the total opposite way and has therefore created a group of people who are, for the most part, completely non-productive members of society and above the law. It is very hard not to fall into a racist or profiling way of thinking. As I say I struggle with it daily.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@resmc I apologize, I must be having a “brain fart” but could you reword your question to me?

DREW_R's avatar

Nope, I can see the shades, but as long as they treat me as I treat them we are fine. Follow the old maxim, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” works until they do otherwise to me. ;)

resmc's avatar

@RedPowerLady No problem at all… that came out kinda clunky, anyhow.

Basically, what are your thoughts on dealing with the inequalities in power that can go along with being one ethinicity/race as opposed to another? Like in social settings, how to express that it may be a part of your present interaction?

resmc's avatar

@DREW_R How do you experience/feel about having different cultural backgrounds from others, and them from you? Do you think that can affect how well you’re able to treat them as they treat you, or even how they treat you (to begin with)?

VzzBzz's avatar

My previous comment didn’t load or got deleted but here’s another attempt:
No, I’m not colorblind. I happen to be a person of “colors” and see positives in diversity of ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. I see a problem with racism though and prejudices based on ethnicity.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@resmc thanx a lot for rephrasing, will respond in a bit, got to go pick up hubby and I’m trying to think of a specific term to illustrate a thought I have on the topic

Debauchery's avatar

Social hierarchy is color-coded. If you float in on your color blind cloud, however well-intentioned it may be, you’re rejecting the fact that that reality exists.

Kelly27's avatar

Color blindness is not addressing that people are different in certain ways. I much prefer to acknowledge that difference rather than to pretend to turn a blind eye. Seeing those differences and embracing them is the key, not ignoring differences.

DREW_R's avatar


”@DREW_R How do you experience/feel about having different cultural backgrounds from others, and them from you? Do you think that can affect how well you’re able to treat them as they treat you, or even how they treat you (to begin with)?”

I enjoy mixing with other cultures very much. I treat them with respect. if in return I am not returned the favor then I quit dealing with them.
Now on terms/lines of say radical Islam, I would just as soon shoot than be shot. We know what their culture is capable of.

I have been left with a squad of S.Korean tanks on my own. No other Americans were with me. I had to eat their C-Rations and drink their water and of course Soju. ;) I got along with them famously. It was a blast. Same in NZ. Of course NZ is not all that much different than the USA. Seems any place I go I can get along with most of the people well.

fireside's avatar

@Debauchery – you should state your sources if you are going to copy and paste on Fluther.

RedPowerLady's avatar


So in answer to your question: How do we address inequalities of power when it comes to race/ethnicity/culture?

Short Answer: Each person needs to recognize the power they have themself over other people. And they need to address that personally. I think that until people who have power realize they do celebrating diversity can only get us so far.

Longer Answer: Okay I got the word I was thinking of. It isn’t sensitively worded but it is called “White Privilege”. I would say that before anything can be done about power differentials when it comes to culture and ethnicity everyone needs to recognize their own privilege. Once people recognize that they do actually have power over others (even in everyday life) it will be easier to have educated conversations about how to make those inequalities go away. Because as it stands now many people say they don’t see color and are thus making use of their privilege. As a person of color you do not have a choice to see color because you are being affected by it ever day. Thus the choice to be color blind is all about privilege. By being color blind you are using that privilege to deny that oppression exists. So that is what I think needs to happen to address the inequalities in power that can go along with being one ethinicity/race as opposed to another? (of course there are MANY things we can do and are working on but this seems to be one area that is drastically overlooked and very much needed). Here is a GREAT website in that regard to help people assess their own privilege:

About your other question. How do we express that culture may be part of our interactions? I think that is a very complicated question and the answer would depend on each community because some are more progressive than others and some are more culturally aware than others. One way to get culture recognized and conversations going is to have celebrated cultural events in the area. We have Native American Pow-Wow’s, The Asisan Celebration, Taiko Drumming, Lion Dancing, Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, Multicultural Potlucks and Summer Schools, and more in my community. We often get “newbies” at the events and it is a great way to allow them a forum to discuss cultural differences. And it is a safe atmosphere to do so.

StephK's avatar

@RedPowerLady said it very well.

Additionally, you might enjoy the book “White Lies” by Maurice Berger—it addresses this issue specifically. I wasn’t crazy about the book, simply because it’s mostly focused on African Americans and Caucasians, but I’m Hispanic and was looking for some literature discussing racism and Hispanics (there’s a lot of black&white stuff out there but not enough brown&white/yellow&white/red&white/etc, in my opinion), but it was still an interesting read.

tabbycat's avatar

No, of course I’m not color blind. I am human, and I bring to every relationship a lifetime of experience and preconceived notions, just like everyone else does. But I have friends from a multiplicity of ethnic backgrounds, and back in the days when I was hiring people, I chose them from a multiplicity of backgrounds. I want to be around folks who are intelligent and capable and who are willing to share their talents and insights with others. A little human compassion is helpful, too.

Their ethnicity, sex and religion is secondary, but it would be disingenuous to say I don’t notice those things at all.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I try my best to be free of all prejudices, and if I ever inadvertently find myself falling into the trappings of a stereotype or some such thing, I do my best to debase that before I let it happen.

VS's avatar

I think there is a big difference in being color blind and being free of prejudice. I seriously doubt that many of us are either. I bring my lifetime of experience to the multi-ethnic table just like the rest of you. My next-door neighbors are black and the BEST neighbors I have ever had anywhere. I would consider any party I have to be not much fun if they were not in attendance. I love them for who they are and for the friends they have been to be me over the last sixteen years. I like RedPowerLady’s analogy of salad. What would my salad of life be without the exotic mixtures?
So color blind? No. I recognize color. Sometimes it clouds my judgment momentarily, but that usually has more to do with white people than it does with other colors.

wundayatta's avatar

I see shade of skin, but that’s not something I use to discriminate between people. I use things like politeness, caring, knowledge of relevant issues, humor, how they treat others, how they present themselves, how they talk about themselves, improvisational and musical abilities, and god, oh so many other criteria.

I wouldn’t use skin shade, unless it was for recruiting someone to live long term in the very cold or very hot. Skin shade is important in these areas for long term health. People of the wrong shade can live in these places, but it’s harder for them (especially if they insist on wearing coats and ties under the equatorial sun).

resmc's avatar

@VS and @daloon It’s great that you both do your best to avoid seeing others as primarily ‘other’, and rather as individuals with their own backgrounds & characters.

I’ve found that, as uncomfortable as it can be, it’s brought a lot of social awareness to my life to make an effort to be aware of how being a person of color would make racism a regular issue to pay attention to, and how, as a mostly white person, my experience of the world is based on not only not having to deal with that, but being able to choose to think about race & racism, and even encouraged to live without considering it much.

For instance, if i assume all schools encourage students to excell, especially bright ones, regardless of class or race – as was the case in my well-funded, predominantly white schools – then i’d be apt to hold it against someone if they didn’t get the same support i got. It’s really hard to imagine the same world can look drastically different to another for factors which we see as superficial, or not at all basis of judging people poorly… yet it’s vital to realize this is often the case, as hard as it is to accept how limited our own experiences are, and how ridiculously unfair our society is at the moment.

There was a doc i saw recently which was utterly fascinating… it shows how stereotypes of African Americans mutated & changed over time to fit the desire for those with the most cultural power (white) to retain that. We don’t often think of popular culture being so intimately related to the structure of power around us, so to see how it can be so was very eye-opening. A low-quality version of it, Ethnic Notions, is on youtube, if anyone’s curious – highly highly recommended!

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

No, I’m definately not colorblind. I think i’m actually pretty racist.
But, thankfully, I’m a little more than racist. I base my immediate assumptions on someone by they way they dress, speak, and move, in addition to the color of their skin.

Btw, I go to Rutgers University, which is pretty damn diverse, and it really makes a lot of sense to be pretty racist.
For example, When i need help on my math homework, I generally ask the asian guy who dresses very cleanly and sharply, in addition to wearing glasses, giving everyone a friendly, but shy smile, and walks with very good posture.

But, if I need “something else” i go talk to the guy who looks like a stoner.


Also, just based of what blood someone has, you can already tell some elements of personality and culture. For example, I often expect Asians to know every EVERYONE (somehow.) Turns out, that generally only applies through Asian church networks. (which generally means that the Koreans and Chinese don’t know each other so well.)

It’s often easy to tell, based off first impressions, what kind of crowd people run with.

Or, maybe I’m just a big racist?

wundayatta's avatar

@resmc I think that the more you rub shoulders with the “other” no matter what that otherness consists of (skin color, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, beauty, strength, musicality, intelligence, creativity, religious views, type of work, etc, etc), the more you see them as people you can be comfortable. This works for almost every type of other group, except Republicans. There is no understanding Republicans (but I digress).

Some of the categories I mentioned are “protected” categories. That is, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of status in those categories. Everything else we are legally allowed to discriminate between people based on status in those categories.

Anyway, growing up, I wasn’t around African-Americans, Jews, rich people, Republicans, war supporters, city people, and probably a host of other types of people. I could never, in a million years, imagine living in New York City, that place of pollution, filth, crime and danger. When I lived there, I discovered it was a wonderful place.

I had no idea what a homosexual was, so I really didn’t have too much of an opinion one way or the other, but when I got to college, they were all over the place. My roommate was gay. Quickly, I learned they were just like everyone else. At college there were also a lot of Jews and I discovered that I was one, too. How’s that for an experience meeting the “other?”

Later, in the work world, it was feminists, activists, politicians, union folks, and blacks. Not surprisingly, all turned out to be just people, when you get to know them. Sure, each group has it’s own unique subcultural behaviors and ways of speaking, and it can be a little daunting getting to know these things, but eventually you do, and it all makes sense.

So now, I’ve lived in many urban areas, and one rural area, but never in the suburbs. In my opinion, suburbs are death. Is this an unreasonably prejudice? I don’t think so. But perhaps if I lived there, I might find otherwise.

My point is that without exposure to the “other” prejudice will survive. If we can find a way for people to cross the divide and meet each other, much prejudice will wither on the vine.

Crusader's avatar

Color blindness as it applies in modern society
is an arbitrary term encouraging
1.) The allowance and acceptance of the cultural andn
economic subordination
of conservative, independent and liberal straight
white men, (and women.)
2.) The encouragement of white women to select ‘minority’
men for mates, while the Vast Majority of attractive
‘minority’ women are strongly encouraged to remain
faithful to their own race.
3.) Acceptance for and encouragement of lack of accountabilty
for ‘minority’ races to perpetuate the myth of pervasive
persecution of ‘minorities’ inflicted upon them
by ‘evil’ white men.
Until ‘minority’ races are as accountable, in their
personal and perfessional lives within their own
groups and in conjunction with others, color
sightedness is not only prudent, but essential.

BBQsomeCows's avatar

Attempting to require people to ignore OBVIOUS traits is inane

starting your sentences with

“As a black American I believe”

is a great way to demonstrate your racist bent and focus people on lesser issues

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther