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Monday, 22 June 2015

"Colour blind" does not mean "ignorant of experiences"

I see "colour blind" referenced by the social justice mob in a dismissive manner.
Identity politics demands we are hyper aware of ethnicity, in some hope that this will make up for whatever historic slight is percieved.
I believe that these people do not even begin to understand what those of us that will declare ourselves "colour blind" are saying.
We are not Stephen Colbert in full on satire mode mocking the desperation of Republicans to be taken seriously.
The strawman this displays is a notion so silly only an idiot bases their opinion on it.
So; what does it ACTUALLY mean.
In essence, it is taking on faith the words of Martin Luther King.
That a man should not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.
How this has become an unpopular position I do not know, considering how well regarded the man is in politics of every stripe.
If you try to judge people on their actions, on their personality and on their merit, you are in essence being "colour blind" in the context of a culture that might otherwise discriminate.

What it does not mean is that you must become ignorant of the experiences of those with a different background.
I can treat a man as an equal and disregard our cultural differences in terms of judgement while still being aware of them.
I can welcome a Jew or a Muslim into my home, afford them every courtesy I would extend to anyone else and be aware that offering a bacon sandwich might not be sensitive.
Equal does not need to mean "identical" especially in a social context.
I can understand that a black guy might have experienced that are really shitty without resorting to treating him differently.

Indeed, I can empathise directly and am told that it "doesn't count" because it "wasn't racism" and "wasn't institutional"
Amusingly, the group that calls for empathy because of identity politics lacks any empathy.
How did I experience things I would deem similar?
I was a poor ginger kid, goofy and nerdy. I was scrawny and unpopular.
Typical loser nerd sob story, indeed.
What treatment did I receive?
I was mocked for my appearance, my intelligence and my lack of social competence.
I was regularly assaulted in the streets, in the schoolyard, in the halls and classrooms. By groups and individuals.
When defending myself I was punished equally to those that attacked me. This might sound reasonable, but compare a grade A pupil being threatened with expulsion to identical threats made to an F student that barely attends classes anyway.
I had my property damaged or stolen, at least once I has a window on my parents house smashed and I would routinely have stones thrown at me.
Yup. All this happened to a young white man in a fairly mixed race council estate in the UK.
I was bullied badly enough that my own classmates "adopted" me and would quite fiercely defend me if "outsiders" attacked me.
So, I know something about being treated as a social pariah and target of abuse.

Does this new awareness make you percieve me differently?
Does it justify treating me differently?
Are you less willing to disagree with me, less willing to call out improper behaviour from me?
The answer to all of these should be NO.
You can offer me empathy without treating me differently.
That is the point.

Colour blindness does not mean losing our diversity or our appreciation of it.
It does not mean ignoring the experiences of our brothers and sisters in this world.
It just means that you judge each individual on their merits as an individual.
This is something I hope everyone will eventually come to understand and champion.