Colorblindness and the Value of Pigment

Onyx Truth Contributor:  J.S. Franklin

I believe in the notion of “colorblindness” as it regards to race relations, not just in this country but in all countries.  It may sound cheesy but ever since I first heard En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” back in the mid-90’s I’ve tried to live by the principle that skin color is just skin color and that people are more than their pigment.  Of course it’s easier said than done and I’ve had my struggles with the idea of race as most people have but I have always tried to maintain the idea that skin color simply is not important because inside we’re all people.

There are many out there who argue otherwise.  Some believe that the idea of colorblindness is unrealistic because we are observably different and those differences have been the basis for varying degrees of hatred, abuse and mistreatment all over the world, by all different races, for thousands of years.  Others believe colorblindness is outright racist because it ignores the racial and cultural heritage of various peoples.  To the first point I say, that’s a fair argument.  Our physical differences have been used as the basis for hatred, wars, enslavement, mistreatment, persecution, and genocide for millennia.  But isn’t that all the more reason to set aside those differences and focus on our similarities?  I’m not talking about revising history or discounting past events.  I’m talking about a social evolution beyond the things that have caused us so much strife.  Brotherhood is not built on differences, brotherhood is established through commonalities.

To the second point I say that is flat out absurd.  How can a policy of viewing everyone as equal regardless of physical appearance possibly be considered racist?  That is the complete opposite of racism.  The people that make this claim of racism place intrinsic value on the pigment in their skin, whatever color it may be.  That value is completely man made and artificial in nature.  The entire construct of race is a man made construct that appears no where else in nature.  You don’t see the various breeds of dogs, or cats, or fish killing each other for being different.  The value people place on skin pigment is entirely self-imposed.

As far as colorblindness ignoring our cultural differences, that is absurd as well.  Colorblindness has nothing to do with culture.  Culture is not found in the color of one’s skin, though many may believe otherwise.  Look at Africa, hundreds of millions of people living there with the same skin color and physical features and yet there are hundreds, possibly thousands of distinct cultures complete with their own languages, customs, traditions, songs, beliefs etc… Europe is the same way.  Hundreds of millions of people alike in physical appearance and yet hundreds of distinct cultures.  Native Americans are another fine example.  They all have common ancestry and a common appearance but many tribes are vastly different from one another, from their languages to their traditions.  Culture is not found in skin color.  Culture comes from language, music, traditions, food, history.  None of those things are dependent on skin color.

People who consider colorblindness to be racist confuse me.  They are often some of the first people to rail against racial profiling, a practice based entirely on physical appearance; but are also the first to call “racism” on anyone who talks about not valuing people based on their skin color.  I don’t understand that. I don’t understand how a person can demand that people not judge them based on the way they look while still demanding that people recognize and respect their skin color.

We are not the pigment in our skin cells.  Our identities should not be based on the color of our skin.  We are not born with certain predilections based on our skin color.  We are not required to think, feel, or act any particular way based on our physical appearance.  We are not required to like certain foods, or music, or clothing; we are not required to perform a certain way in school or work certain jobs; we are not required to live in a certain neighborhood or vote for a particular candidate; nor are we are required to feel any particular way about each other due to our skin color.  We are free thinking, intelligent, rational beings, each with the ability to determine our own identity and self-worth.

I know how the world works, I know what the past has been. I know we have created this system of placing “value” on skin color and that it has shaped our society into what it is.  But it doesn’t have to be like this.  Break free from this asinine and irrelevant notion of skin color.  Don’t base your identity on your appearance and don’t presume to know the worth of others based on theirs.  We are all worth more than the meaningless pigment in our skin cells.  Free your mind and the rest will follow.  Be colorblind, don’t be so shallow.

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