“…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31
Can anyone be born with perfect vision, still be blind? Some people claim to be. They call it color-blindness. In The Transformation of a Black Woman from my first collection of short stories The Phoenix Chronicles, I explore this provocative concept through the main character, Toby Maxwell. She has just gotten engaged when we enter into her thoughts:
“I peeled one of his hands from the steering wheel to kiss each finger. His creamy whiteness contrasted my brown sugar skin. It was startling to the outside world, but we made a point not to notice (the color difference). In our universe race didn’t define us; it was secondary to the person we were on the inside. It’s like MLK said about not being judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. Not many in our circle believed that.”
Toby is adamant about her belief in color-blindness. The love of her life was proof that she didn’t care about the skin. She would later discover that she and her fiancé Jason weren’t on the same page when it came to race. What is color blindness?
Typically when we think of color blindness, we think of a physical condition that affects the way one sees colors. It is usually inherited or can be caused by injury or disease. The color blindness I am referring to in the story, however, is not a physical malady, but a spiritual one. Many people claim to have this condition, as if it was something to be proud of. What the people are claiming is that they do not see the color of anyone’s skin so they treat everyone the same. I used to believe I was color blind until I learned the truth: color blindness denies the individuality of every person.
It is a biological fact that skin colors exist. It’s what those colors represent that fuels racism. All of us are taught by many different sources (especially by those who raised us) to associate a certain race with a certain characteristic, a certain social standing, and a certain way of living. This kind of judgment is instantaneous. The response to that person reflects what they already believe is true about someone they don’t even know. Unconditional acceptance frees us from the tyranny of prejudice.
After all, it’s just a color.