“When we say we don’t see color, what we are truly saying is, ‘I don’t want to see the things about you that are different because society has told me they are dangerous or undesirable.’ Ignoring difference does not change society; nor does it change the experiences non-normative bodies must navigate to survive. Rendering difference invisible validates the notion that there are parts of us that should be ignored, hidden, or minimized, leaving in place the unspoken idea that difference is the problem and not our approach to dealing with difference.” This brilliant observation is from The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. I highly recommend it (especially as an audiobook — read by the author!). I grew up during the era when the best we knew to teach was “I don’t see color” or “We all bleed red.” It was definitely more evolved than overt white supremacy, but it always felt off to me. (So did those off-pitch encouragements that “Girls can do anything boys can do!” but that’s a discussion for another day). I am grateful to Sonya for her vision and her voice to give shape to this idea that dealing with difference and not erasing it should be our focus. I try to improve my own skill at dealing with difference primarily through reading and listening, and then trying and failing and trying again.
Published by Emily P.G. Erickson
Emily P.G. Erickson is a writer with a master's degree in psychology. Her helpful, science-backed journalism and essays about mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood have appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Romper, Elemental, and elsewhere. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com. View more posts