Colorblind vs Colorful

Much is made about diversity and how "color sensitive" we need to be. I recently ran across the phrase at the title of this blog, "Colorblind vs colorful." In its context, it implied that we need to be colorblind before we can be colorful. The notion of "color blindness" is appealing. It means we won't prejudge people for their race. It means, presumably, that we would quickly end all the slavery-based racism that this country's history is covered with. But, I would argue, that such a goal will produce a climate that is only comfortable to the white majority and thus will not integrate minorities (colored-people) into the mainstream of society.

We can't be colorblind if we want to consider the background that we all bring into society. When I was an undergraduate student at Ball State I heard jokes and comments from my classmates that required having grown up in the US to understand them. There were jokes about Uncle Miltie, for example, who I had no clue who he was. All laughed and I simply had to laugh with that nervous laugh that says "please don't ask me anything, I have no clue what you are talking about." Yet, if I made a joke about someone from TV that I grew up with, say El Chapulín Colorado or El Tío Nobel, they wouldn't have had a clue of what I was talking about. But because of sheer numbers, their joke is tolerated and mine would have been a group breaking gaffe. Colorblind in this case means the "majority" rules.

Being colorful, however, means that we need to understand the differences that we all bring into society. I have had friends who are conscious of jokes that require a cultural background of US history or US customs that I don't have. They often apologize or provide enough context for me to follow along. It is not surprising that among those friends, I am encouraged to tell stories about growing up in Puerto Rico, at times they even ask me about them. That type of camaraderie is one that is colorful, not colorblind. It is no surprise that these are the colleagues and friends that I keep in touch with.

We all come in different colors, lets celebrate how colorful we are.

Posted on 09/14/2009



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