When it comes to bridging the racial divide in our nation I hear a lot of well-meaning people suggest that society needs to become “colorblind” in order to move beyond racial tension. By this they mean that we should refuse to view each other as persons of color; that we should not acknowledge that we are black people, or white people, or brown people- but that we are simply people. The effort here is to emphasize our shared humanity rather than divide ourselves based on mere externals.
I see this as noble but misguided because to deemphasize our color is to deemphasize an important part of our individual humanity. We must not elevate our shared humanity at the expense of our individual humanity; both can be held in tension without one superseding the other.
God has made us in many different shades and colors and to practice colorblindness is to willingly diminish the creativity and beauty in His creation. Our struggle isn’t with color in itself; it’s with the inequality of color. Color adds beauty to life- and to persons- and everyone has a color. My personal color happens to be a little bit pasty and whiter than my black friends, but I still have a color. Humanity’s great crime has been segregating and classifying one another based on something that God created as good.
When we view color and phenotype as an intrinsically good quality then we can see why the concept of colorblindness is misguided. We must not diminish what is good based on the gross injustices committed on the basis of color. To become colorblind is to ensure that our brothers and sisters on the darker side of the color spectrum never achieve the equality that has been deprived of them for so long. To say to those who have been oppressed for so long because of their color that color no longer matters is, to me, an exercise in giving up before we’ve even started the process of racial healing. We must strive to be a people who celebrate the diversity in color, not a people who simply ignore it.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The great paradox of the gospel is unity in diversity; it is that we are all one in Jesus Christ. Not that we cease to be Jew or Greek or male or female or black or white or Indian or Latino/a, etc.- but instead we are fellowship of differents, a collection of seemingly disparate peoples united by a common humanity and a common Lord who become a beautiful organic community.
There should be no colorblindness in the church, rather a celebration of our unity in diversity. If the (color)blind lead the (color)blind, both will fall into a pit. Colorblindness is a well-intentioned concept, but will ultimately fall short of the goals it desires. True unity is only achieved as we acknowledge the beauty of our diversity.