The Impact of Colorblindness on Black People

It was summer of 2022. A massive windstorm was wreaking havoc in the city where I lived. Power was out in some areas, branches had broken off trees, patio umbrellas had blown over, and debris was flying through the air causing damage to homes. When the winds finally subsided, I saw the damage to my living room window and immediately scheduled an appointment with a window company to obtain an estimate.

A few days later, a technician arrived at my home. He was a clean-cut White man who was as American as apple pie. As we sat at the dining room table reviewing forms and making small talk, he asked me what I did for a living. “I’m the international best-selling & award-winning author of Hush Money: How One Woman Proved Systemic Racism in her Workplace & Kept her Job,” I replied.

When he realized that I was the author of a book about racism, his eyes lit up. “My parents raised me not to see color,” he said with a warm smile, “I just see people because we’re all the same.”

I could tell that he meant no harm, but I wanted to help him understand the reason his statement was offensive. So, I decided to use an educational approach to disarm his microaggression because, in general, no one can fix something that they don’t know is broken. Here’s how I responded: “I know you meant well, but your comment was offensive because choosing not to see the color of Black people like me means that you are also choosing not to see our racial and ethnic experiences or the systemic laws & policies that make life harder for us in every facet of life.”

Then, I proceeded to give him examples of things that we experience because of the color of our skin that he does not know, including racial profiling, police brutality, medical racism, pay gaps, and racism in the workplace, just to name a few. In the end, he thanked me for educating him and said, “I’ll never make this mistake again.”

When it comes to disarming colorblindness, silence is never an option because, like I said, no one can fix what they don’t know is broken.

By Jaquie Abram

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