Racism + Culture
I See Black People, And I’m Not Racist
Here’s why the myth of colorblindness perpetuates racism
I’m writing this piece from the vantage point of an ordained Christian minister who is also a tenured professor teaching at a liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). My comments regarding racism and colorblindness reflect a specific critique of Christianity in general and the ELCA in particular. My critique, however, is not limited to Christianity and the ELCA.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing Black people
In the 1999 movie “The Sixth Sense,” an 11-year-old boy seeks the help of a child psychologist. The boy communicates with spirits that do not know they’re dead. When the boy reveals to the psychologist that he’s able to communicate with spirits, he tells the psychologist, “I want to tell you my secret now…I see dead people.”
The boy had kept this secret for years because he lives in a world where it is only appropriate to see living people. No one is supposed to see dead people “walking around like regular people.” Everyone around him — including his mother — tries to convince him that he is crazy.
During the past several years — especially since the election of Barack Obama as the first Black President of the United States — much of the discourse in America has tried to convince Americans — especially young white Americans — that America is now a post-racial society. In this new post-racial America, “seeing” race (or “color”) is as inappropriate and crazy as seeing dead people.
I’m a beautiful black man with beautiful black parents and beautiful black children. I want the world to see and embrace the beauty of my blackness. I do not want people to pretend to be blind to my blackness. If you don’t see my blackness, then you don’t see me.
Everyone wants to be seen for their beauty. My blackness is part of my beauty, and I…