BIG IDEA: Color Blind Isn’t Cool

I often hear well-meaning people say things like, “When I see [my friend of color], I don’t see race. I just see a person.”

Others wonder if it’s helpful to keep talking about race all the time. Doesn’t that make racial tensions worse? Wouldn’t it be better if we just looked past race?

These approaches is often referred to as ‘color-blindness.’

I believe these sentiments come from a good place…a genuine desire to see all people, regardless of race, treated equally and fairly.

But what if ‘not seeing’ or ‘looking past’ race was actually counterproductive, or even damaging? Check out the resources below to learn more.

ARTICLE: Colorblind Ideology Is A Form of Racism by Monnica T. Williams, Ph.D

FEATURED VIDEO: Color Blind or Color Brave?

VIDEO PLAYLIST: Why ‘Color Blind’ Ideology Is Problematic


Far from being a worthy goal…colorblindness has proved catastrophic for African Americans…Saying that one does not care about race is offered as an exculpatory virtue, when in fact it can be a form of cruelty…A commitment to color consciousness, by contrast, places faith in our capacity as humans to show care and concern for others, even as we are fully cognizant of race and possible racial differences…Seeing race is not the problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem. We should hope not for a colorblind society but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love. That was King’s dream—a society that is capable of seeing each of us, as we are, with love. That is a goal worth fighting for.

from The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander


Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities being denied access to the political process…Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society—inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities. And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, ‘No, where are you really from?’, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country…Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’ In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.

from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent of the 2014 decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action