why then, is it so common among white people to pretend that we don't? to insist that equality is sameness or that talking about differences is wrong?
have you every been talking with someone who is describing another person, and suddenly their voice inexplicably falls to a whisper, and they say "black" like they weren't supposed to notice?
according to the popular melting pot, colorblind worldview, everyone is the same and recognizing differences is somehow inherently racist.
but we're not all the same, are we? we are equally deserving of rights and respect, of course--but it's foolish to presume or pretend that we all share the same perspective, experience, or access.
refusing to acknowledge color is a luxury enjoyed exclusively by people who've never been on the receiving end of personal or systemic racism.
when white people insist that all people are the same and color doesn't matter, we're choosing to ignore racial inequalities (that we may benefit from) and the unearned privileges that we take for granted and others lack. we ignore minority stories in favor our our own imagined narrative.
if we want to move forward from past and present injustice, we can't pretend our way out. white people need to be willing to have hard conversations about race and actually listen to perspectives of people of color.
a few years ago, i remember asking a white acquaintance who was internationally adopting a black child how she could help her child get a sense of a racial and cultural identity they did not share. she essentially said that it would be a non-issue, since her child's primary identity was as a child of God.
how could a child's race and the obvious fact that she looked different than her family and most of her community not be an issue?
kristen, over at rage against the minivan, is mother to two white and two black children, and she has an interesting post about race, parenting, and pre-schoolers that is worth reading: "our colorblind era of denial is not serving our children well," she says.
how do you teach your kids to be inclusive and to appreciate differences? how do we all begin to have the kinds of conversations about race that allow us to be vulnerable, awkward, and real? if we live in homogeneous [segregated?] communities, how can we begin to dissolve the prejudices in ourselves--and prevent passing them down to our children?