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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2017 03:19 am (UTC)
To be fair, this can be a true and neutral statement. It took me years to learn to distinguish "color" with any degree of certainty, and even now I can't ever be sure whether I got it right without asking (just as I can't tell a mid-Western accent from an East Coast one, although people tell me there's a world of difference). I can, however, easily distinguish an Armenian from a Georgian and either of these from a Jew - because this is the kind of ability one picks up in childhood and it's heavily dependent on what kind of faces one saw as a child.
Mar. 30th, 2017 01:59 pm (UTC)
Even if that's true, it may not be neutral. If you were gender-blind, would you interrupt a woman talking about institutional sexism to point out that you couldn't reliably tell a person's gender by looking at them?
Mar. 30th, 2017 04:00 pm (UTC)
No, but interrupting is rude regardless of the comment, and discussion of an overall evil is different than discussion of a specific type of comment, so the cases are dissimilar in at least two ways. That said, of course any comment may or may not be neutral, even, famously, "good morning".
Mar. 30th, 2017 04:25 pm (UTC)
One aspect of this that I've only a few times seen articulated well is that not only does the idea of these kinds of phrases (I don't see colour, I don't see gender) is that while it implies that one does not discriminate along stereotypic lines, it can also negate the actual experience of the individual.

Basically saying one doesn't see colour can not only be meant to be supportive, it can also be dismissive of a POC's actual lived experience and the important factors of that. Often it's more bluntly stated as "but race isn't important". Which, for me at least, is close but not quite there. Race shouldn't be important but it is demonstrably a factor in a person's upbringing. I guess for myself (I'm at the thinking out loud stage of my comment so please understand not specifically directed at you) it's not "important". It's does it have impact and should it have impact. Importance is a whole other mess.

In the effort to normalize (wince) things people often try to state the hoped for outcome. But what that often can feel like is that the present actual experience isn't valid. When people, for instance, tell me it's different now and that HIV is not a death sentence and it's all better and on and on? As some one who is HIV positive and does in fact multiple issues due to being poz (socially) and having this disease (physiologically and biologically), it's often a way to shut down (intentionally or not) talking about the complicated present reality. No, I won't die in 6 months but I do, in fact, have a metric shittonne of issues that still exist.

Wishing for a new state is great. Trying to overlay the present state with rhetoric that can negate the very real issues existing right now isn't helping. Because so much time needs to be spent digging out from under well intentioned conversations that aren't doing what people think they are.
Mar. 30th, 2017 05:12 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right. A single comment may be positive, negative, or neutral. My point is that this would be a better world if everyone tried to avoid reading extra meaning into what can be a plain statement of personal experience. It is generally possible to tell from follow-up comments whether "I don't see color" was meant as "... so race is not important", "... so your experience must be wrong", "... so let's have a fun three hours attempting to define the term color", "... so help me understand your experience", "... so I really envy your additional perception", or something entirely different.

Mar. 31st, 2017 05:10 pm (UTC)
That word "don't" is more important than many people realize, in "I don't see color." It implies deliberate choice, and a sort of moral superiority. There are plenty of people who make that deliberate choice, and claim it's morally superior.

I used to run into a similar kind of misunderstanding when I said, "I don't watch television." When I say "I can't focus on moving pictures," that's closer to the truth. More important, it moves farther from a misunderstanding that's easy to make and potentially hurtful, because there are people who think television is a waste of time and people who watch it are stupid. Even though "can't" is not precisely correct (I'm fine with pictures that move slowly), it's not misleading in a way that matters to anyone but my doctor.

Maybe try "I have trouble recognizing racial identifiers" rather than "I don't see color," if you don't want to sound like those people who are choosing not to see color.
Mar. 31st, 2017 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you, this is good advice :) I'll consider it. However, I was not asking how best to formulate this statement, but asserting that _as_formulated_ in the top post it _can_ be neutral.
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Jim C. Hines

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