‘I don’t see color’ is not a well meaning statement

I feel that in the wake of these shootings and apparent racism that there will be a bigger rise for social justice in all circles. But if you are going to be vocal in this argument don’t make the mistake of saying color does not matter or that color should not matter. That is not the goal. And even though this is yet another time where there is a lot of tension when it comes to race, we should not fall into the trap of saying things like, “I don’t see color.” Let me tell you what my color means to me.

  • It’s the color of my skin. I have been carrying it around with me for 22 years and I’m comfortable with it. I don’t think it is wierd or some kind of marker of my intellegence or potential. It is my skin and it is beautiful.
  • It means that even though I am a human being a lot of people who look like me have a family history of racism, police brutality, and slavery. The story of the people who have died and suffered under this inequality deserves to be told by the victims who went through it.
  • It also means I am still fighting an uphill battle as a part of the 2% of Black women in tech because of isolation and racisim that still exists in the world today.

So, to say that you don’t see color is to say that you don’t appreciate my history, the possible pain I am feeling when the shooting stories of last week come to mind, and my different perspective on life. To say you don’t see color is to say you don’t see me.

The reason why we need support groups for people of color and other ethnic centered events is not against White people but because of the danger of a single narriative. This push back on recongizing diversity happens when people who have different stories aren’t welcome. For example many Blacks come from poverty or broken homes. But at times there is a bigger reason than that they can’t find work or they haven’t attended college. Poverty isn’t the only example of how some stories differ from the majority. What about on the cosumer side, finding makeup for my dark skin tone, how I use different lotion and hair products, or have problems with facial recognition software. Another one is while I have family members who went to college no one was an engineer and could help me get prepared for this career. I needed to find other people who had the same story I did and get their advice on the best path forward.

At no time in this conversation of diversity and inclusion will I ever say I am willing to leave my color behind. I know that when I walk in the door preconceptions are being made whether or not I make the choice to forget my color. A world where color does not matter would only happen if we did not have sterotypes and ingrained biases. And those mechanisms will probably last forever. So we have to actively work against fixed mindsets. I am not going to attack someone based on the color of their skin, but I will challenge their mindsets.

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Camille is a Mechanical Engineering student sharing about her personal relationships and experiences working in the tech field as a woman of color.