Editors’ Word: This story was initially revealed on The Everygirl in March 2019, however in an effort to amplify vital content material by our Black writers, we’re reposting for individuals who might not have seen it initially.
“I don’t see shade.”
The second of uncomfortable silence after these 4 easy phrases are uttered. The sideways glances, the shifting of palms, of ft, of butts in chairs. An ungainly snort might break the quiet, however not the strain — it nonetheless lingers.
In my expertise, this phrase is most frequently proclaimed by a well-intentioned particular person. I’ve heard it spoken in an effort to reassure mates, colleagues, or acquaintances that each one persons are equal. The expression will also be used as a tactic for avoiding emotions of discomfort stirred up by the subject of race. Reciting it’s as if to say, “let’s not make race a problem by not acknowledging it as one.”
However that is a part of the difficulty. Whatever the coronary heart behind the remark, what I and lots of different individuals of shade hear carries extra weight than simply 4 easy phrases.
You don’t see me.
“I don’t see shade” can really feel like “I’m selecting to disregard this a part of you as a result of it makes me extra snug.” It feels like “I don’t see you,” and it looks like an informal dismissal.
The seemingly innocent comment negates what the speaker is usually making an attempt to say, which is “you’re good with me as you’re.”
It’s counterintuitive, however think about if somebody refused to acknowledge your id as a loving mom, a badass profession girl, or a dedicated companion. If this can be a important a part of who you’re, you’d really feel as if the particular person is making an attempt to make good, however within the course of is selecting what elements of you’re handy, thereby ignoring the entire girl in entrance of them.
My id as a black girl is part of who I’m. Is all of it of me? Hell no. However, as considered one of my mates precisely put it, refusing to see shade is disregarding the distinct magnificence that my blackness brings to the desk.
You don’t hear me.
“I don’t see shade” has additionally been used because the nuke button in discussions about inequality or injustice. Nonetheless, the method of eliminating one particular person’s unease concurrently silences the voices of black and brown individuals within the dialog.
Refusing to have a dialogue about race won’t resolve the problems we face — it can solely perpetuate them.
For instance, why is it that so many individuals had been keen to speak at nice size about Colin Kaepernick’s determination to face or kneel, however they had been unwilling to debate the unarmed black males on the middle of his protest? It is a symptom of a bigger drawback. Folks don’t need to hear in regards to the robust stuff, and as an alternative want to shift the main target someplace, anyplace, however race.
At this level many individuals will argue that all of us have issues, whatever the shade of our pores and skin. That’s 100 p.c correct. However what can also be 100 p.c correct is that we dwell with the shrapnel of a historical past that has constantly disenfranchised communities of shade, and we have to acknowledge moderately than run from that.
You don’t perceive me.
“I don’t see shade.” Once I hear these phrases I can’t assist however really feel that the speaker has no want to grasp the place I’m coming from and what my expertise is like.
We don’t all begin off with the identical alternatives. In case you’ve ever participated in a privilege stroll, you realize this to be true. Which means we actually don’t all find yourself on the identical end line. To say “I don’t see shade” is to say “I gained’t acknowledge that I’ll have doorways opened to me that won’t be opened to you.”
It signifies a scarcity of empathy and an ignorance to the historic context that may proceed to face in somebody’s manner, regardless of their onerous work and particular person effort.
Making house for an additional viewpoint doesn’t negate yours. Fairly the alternative — it gives extra context and framework to your personal expertise. Being fast to invalidate another person’s actuality simply because it’s completely different than yours means lacking a possibility to study and develop.
Folks of shade see shade quite a lot of the time. Not as a result of we’re actively on the lookout for it, however as a result of the areas by which we navigate usually require us to contemplate what different individuals might make of our mere presence. Once I enter a room, am I the one black girl there? In that case, will individuals assume that I’m making an attempt to “make a press release” with my afro hair, when in actuality, I wakened like this.
Will the younger black boy strolling down the road with a hoodie on be mistaken for a thug, when in actuality, he’s simply headed residence? Will the Asian scholar within the math class be anticipated to know all of the solutions, when in actuality, they only employed a tutor to assist them go? Will the Latina girl exhibiting frustration within the office be referred to as “fiery,” when in actuality, she’s simply reacting to the frustration of workplace politics?
Due to stereotypes and expectations positioned on individuals of shade, every of those easy, on a regular basis encounters require an consciousness of race.
So earlier than saying you don’t see shade, please think about in case you imply that you just don’t see these attributes of and challenges going through the person in entrance of you. If that’s not the case, I’d encourage you to search out one other phrase — one which respectfully acknowledges the views and variations that include being an individual of shade, in addition to the inherent magnificence they supply.
As a result of completely different shouldn’t be synonymous for dangerous. Our distinctive attributes add nuance, taste, and texture to an in any other case monolithic tradition. It’s solely once we use our variations to find out who is kind of invaluable that they turn out to be distorted and oppressive.
So let’s embrace our variety. Let’s see the world in shade moderately than carrying rose coloured glasses that truly flip issues into varied shades of grey.