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Seeing Color on Purpose

by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

October 2022

One statement people often here when talking about diversity and inclusion is, “I don’t see color.” Over and over, people in the DEI field have talked about why this statement can be harmful, yet we still hear it.

Is it that people don’t see color – or are they afraid to deal with the responsibilities that come with seeing and accepting other races and ethnicities? Is it because to see color, they might have to look a little deeper at the way their circles are balanced or not? Could it be that to see color would mean to see cultural differences that people might not understand? Declaring that color does not exist is ultimately a declaration that anyone not like us is invisible, whether we mean it that way or not.

It's time to see color on purpose. We see the colors of trees, birds, flowers, cars, and even the paint on our walls. We look at the richness of each varying shade and take in their beauty. We don’t look at a colorful bed of flowers and deny their existence. We don’t look at them and say, “I believe all flowers are the same and not one of them is treated differently.” Even if we said that, we would not be telling the whole truth. If the flowers on one bush were brighter than another, we may want to pick those flowers BECAUSE they are so unique.

Why can’t we be the same way with people? Why can’t we look at the shades of skin white people have and marvel at their range, from porcelain to olive, while having that same feeling of excitement about the array of skin tones for black and brown people? What if people approached other cultures with the same curiosity and delight they experience when looking at different types of flowers, trees, or bushes? Why can’t we SEE COLOR ON PURPOSE?

By doing this, we can learn new ways of embracing culturally centered cooking, enjoy new traditions, and even interact with each other in healthier ways. We would have a renewed yearning for learning and find out more about notable greats like Native Americans Tamanend or Sequoyah.  Or maybe the beauty of our differences when celebrated would motivate us to learn about the accomplishments and roots of people like scientist Dr. Chien Shiung Wu, comedian Abbi Jacobson, playwright Lin-Manual Miranda, or Minister Richard Allen.

There is a richness in seeing color. To ignore it is to say to ourselves, “I don’t want enhance my world or all the beautiful things and people in it.” Why wouldn’t we want that? I encourage you to see color with openness, curiosity, and the zeal of a young child hearing their parents for the first time. In this way, we allow ourselves to grow, and growth helps us to enjoy the gift of life.