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I Need You to See Me

(July 8, 2016)

Dear Friends,

I just want to say without it being dismissed as being overly sensitive, that those of us who are people of color HATE when people say that they don't see color.

Well, let me not be the spokesperson for all people of color but, for me and those that I know, it really irks us.

Like, we know it's usually meant innocently and it's usually meant to imply that we aren't judged for our skin but, at the same time, we ALWAYS see color because we are ALWAYS our color and even if *you* don't judge us for it, we can NEVER escape it.

There's not a day that goes by in which I'm not Asian *and* judged for it. I mean, I must be good at math and had strict parents and eat dogs and be really smart and submissive and the list goes on and on ...

Just because you don't see it doesn't mean that I get to ignore it. And really, when I hear it, I cringe on the inside (and sometimes outwardly) and I interpret it and internalize it as you saying that you do not acknowledge who I am at my very core.

It's really a dismissive thing to say. And when we say it to our kids I feel we are saying that it's okay to ignore an issue that is very real and very problematic and when we ignore an issue it doesn't just magically go away because we ignore it. Usually, it gets worse.

I hope this makes sense.

It's like when people have high blood pressure but they never go to the doctor and they never get it checked out because it doesn't bother them or they don't have symptoms of it. Eventually, it catches up to them and they have heart issues.

Saying, "I don't see color," says to me that you don't see ME.

For additional perspective, I recommend you read She says the following:

"... if you teach your kids to be colorblind, they may not understand the uniquely dangerous situations my child can find himself in. If you tell your kids racism happened a long time ago and now it’s over and use my family as an example of how whites and blacks and browns can all get along together, you are not doing me any favors. Just because you haven’t seen obvious examples of racism in your own life doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. ...

"... please talk to your kids about racism. If they see my son being bullied or called racist names, they need to stand with him. They need to understand how threatening that is and not just something to be laughed off. If your child is with my child playing soccer at the park and the police drive by, tell your child to stay. Just stay right there with my son. Be a witness. In that situation, be extra polite, extra respectful. Don’t run and don’t leave my son by himself. If you are with my son, this is not the time to try out any new risky behaviors. Whatever trouble you get into, he will likely not be judged by the same standard you are. Be understanding that he can’t make the same mistakes you can. ...

"Don’t shy away from this just because you can. He can’t. We can’t."

See, the problem with telling kids that "color doesn't matter" is that they don't understand the nuances of language and that words have literal, figurative, and proverbial meanings.

There's really nothing that I can think of that is so blatantly different about each of us than our color and saying "it doesn't matter" or "I don't see it" trivializes it and minimizes how it affects the people who are of those color.

Sure, it doesn't change how you treat that person, but the difference *does* matter in a very real and tangible way for that person. It doesn't matter *to you* but that doesn't mean it does not matter.

Most kids think that when they're told something "doesn't matter" or "isn't important" that it is of no consequence. In the case of race/color, it is VERY CONSEQUENTIAL.

I invite everyone to think of it and speak of it as maybe, "Yes, people are different and we should celebrate those differences and embrace them as gifts," instead of, "Yes, they're different but it doesn't matter because we're all people."

Yes, they're just words but sometimes words matter and they mean things bigger than the words used and often in ways that are more important than we realize. A lot of times, words are all we have when we haven't lived what we're trying to explain and choosing the right words could make all the difference.

#blacklivesmatter #allyassistance

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