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"I don’t see color:” Colorblind Racism

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

You may have heard phrases like “I don’t see color --” or “I don't care if you're black, white, green, purple, or polka-dotted!”

This mentality is better known as colorblind racism and often used to shut down or avoid conversations about race in its entirety. It can also present as an individual trying to be inclusive, progressive, self-aware, and culturally fluent -- that they don’t color!

Commentary and perspectives like this are a toxic form of microaggression that is harmful and counterproductive to creating social justice advancements.

Simply put, this mentality allows someone to perpetuate racism by ignoring laws and systems of oppression that were designed to intentionally hold back communities of color -- in favor of the white race. This message furthermore attempts to erase the struggles and realities of BIPOC individuals. Several fundamental aspects of life have been built on a bias toward specific skin color, race, and ethnicity– social status, employment, pay inequity, healthcare, and more.

If/when approached, what do you say? Here are a couple of thought starters…

  • Have you heard of the concept known as racial colorblindness?

  • I understand you are trying to be helpful, but your commentary is hurtful because...

  • If you’re not seeing my color, you are also not seeing the positives, such as...

  • That statement makes me feel...

  • I have to walk away from this conversation.

In the words of author Danielle Coke Balfour “[s]eeing race means seeing a person in their fullness -- and being ready to work for their good to ensure that there’s opportunity, safety, and equity for us all.”

The Colorful Connections team covers this topic in our Empathy Building and Microaggressions & Bias workshops. Reach out to learn more by clicking here.


Fitchburg State University

Racism without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

The Atlantic

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