“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
You mean well when you say it. I know. You mean it as a compliment. I know. You think it is a good thing. Something we should all aspire to.
I know. I hear you.
“I just don’t get the whole race thing. I guess it’s because my parents raised me to be colorblind.”
“Can I just tell you how refreshing it is to meet a family that is so incredibly colorblind?”
“I don’t see color when I choose a cast for a play. I use colorblind casting.”
“The world would be so much better if we were all more colorblind.”
Blind: adjective \ˈblīnd\ (1) sightless, having less than 1/10 of normal vision in the more efficient eye they refractive defects are fully corrected by lenses, (2) unable or unwilling to discern or judge, unquestioning, (3) having no regard to rational discrimination, guidance or restriction
Color: noun, often attributative col-or \’kə-lər\ (1) a phenomenon of light (as red, brown, pink or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects
Or, as I see it:
Blind: adjective \blīnd\ unable or unwilling to see, unable or unwilling to take into account
Color: noun, often attributive col-or \’kə-lər\ the sum of our unique life experiences that enables us to differentiate who we are as individuals
Colorblind: adjective \col-or-blind \-ˌblīnd\ (1) affected with a partial or total inability to distinguish one or more chromatic colors, (2) insensitive, oblivious, (3) not influenced by differences of race
Or, as I see it:
You mean well when you say it. You mean it as a compliment. You think it is a good thing. Something we should all aspire to. I know. I hear you.
But I hear you… differently than you might intend.
“I just don’t get the whole race thing. I guess it’s because my parents raised me to be insensitive or oblivious to the unique life experiences that differentiate who we are as people.”
“Can I just tell you how refreshing it is to meet a family that is so incredibly insensitive or oblivious to the unique life experiences that differentiate who we are as people?”
“I don’t see the uniqueness among individuals when I choose cast for a play. I am insensitive or oblivious to the unique life experiences that differentiate who we are as people while casting.”
“The world would be so much better if we were all more insensitive or oblivious to the unique life experiences that differentiate who we are as people.”
You mean well when you say it. You think it is a good thing. Something we should all aspire to.
You say I am colorblind. You mean it as a compliment.
I see color. I relish color. I seek out color.
Especially in the fall. How do I even begin to describe the beauty in the contrast of the white clouds against the blue October sky, framed by the explosion of reds, oranges, greens, yellows and browns of the trees? I celebrate it every year in many ways, but my favorite is to get in my car, drive out of my mid-sized, midwestern city, and go to a small farm about 30 miles away where they sell pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. Orange pumpkins. White pumpkins. Green pumpkins. Yellow pumpkins. So many pumpkins. I go because I am not colorblind.
I always try to go with one of my dearest friends. Some years, she calls and asks me what day I want to go. Some years, I call her to find out what day would work best for her to come with me. Some years, our schedules don’t mesh, and I go twice, once with my family and then again with her. Some years, our schedules don’t mesh, and she doesn’t go, saying that it’s okay, she’ll just buy her pumpkins in town. And those are the years that my heart breaks.
For on the outskirts of this small, midwestern town, amidst the glorious colors of fall, amidst the celebration of blue sky, white clouds and a harvest-hued rainbow of leaves and pumpkins, it is my friend’s glowing, coffee-with-just-a hint-of-caramel colored skin that gets the most notice. She sees the fleeting moment of apprehensive recognition in people’s eyes. She sees how they see her. She notices that they notice. It makes her feel uncomfortable. It makes her feel uninvited. It makes her feel unwanted.
Fifteen years. That’s how long we have been doing this. Fifteen years since the day that she first trusted me enough to ask if she could come with me and tell me the reasons why. Fifteen years since I first saw the colors of fall through her perspective. Since I first saw her see me. Since I first saw how others see her. Since I have had the honor of calling her one of my dearest friends.
We were once only casual acquaintances, but she felt comfortable enough to ask me to escort her to a farm on the outskirts of a midwestern small town. And in the time since then, our friendship has grown.
Because I am not colorblind.
You say you are colorblind. You mean well. I know.
I don’t believe you.
Unless we are genuinely “affected with partial or total inability to distinguish one or more chromatic colors”, we see color. Color adds beauty to the world.
We see color. We relish color. We seek out color.
We travel for miles to see a beautiful sunset. We spend hours choosing just the right color of paint for the walls of our homes. We dye our hair, and often stress about whether we got just the right shade. We put flowers in a room to brighten the mood. Don’t even get me started about accent pillows.
Color is good. Color is beautiful. Color is everywhere. Even in people.
Open your eyes. See the colors. See the experiences. See the people.
See all of the beautiful, brilliantly colorful people.
And don’t be afraid to let the beautiful, brilliantly colorful people know that you welcome them.
Because you might just make a beautiful, brilliantly colorful, lifelong friend.