Thursday, May 22, 2008

Colorblindness - Racial and otherwise

I am colorblind.

Ever since the moment when I explained to my parents that I understood traffic lights I have known that I was colorblind.  My explanation contained what I had observed:  That you stop on red and go on white.  White?  The fact that anyone considers a green light green is still puzzling to me.

Throughout life I have stopped paying attention to color as a distinguishable feature.  I do not shop for clothes without help and I do not wear anything that I'm not already sure goes together.  I do not see in black and white.  I'm not completely colorblind as I see all primary colors clearly, but secondary colors and muted tones are not describable.  Like the chart below, I have no way to identify or give a name to what I see.


Colorblindness is how many describe an ideal society when it comes to racial identity but I should warn you in advance.  Like any disability you have other senses that become more sensitive.  If you strive for colorblindness then your other senses of bias and unfair discrimination will become stronger.

My mind has given up long ago thinking of color as anything important.  When I see clothes, product labels, signs and yes...people, my mind pays very little attention to this detail.  As if through my inability to make it useful my brain has completely stopped using it as a factor. 

Instead, culture becomes my dividing line.  Where colors may be a factor of choice for some I would rather divide people along other lines.  Pick-up truck driving people, Country Music listeners, introverts, extroverts, quiet people, rednecks, poor, privileged, spoiled, victim-minded, loud people, time wasters, selfishly driven, and the list goes on and on.  My senses along these dividing lines are very strong and my mind begins sorting people out before I've been with them very long at all.

None of these distinctions have necessarily divided people according to good and bad, but rather into safe bins where later I can sort them even further.  It occurred to me that there is some inherent human need to divide people according to convenience and race is probably the easiest and laziest way to do it...though thankfully I am not afforded that luxury. 


Ronald said...

What do you see when you look at that chart?

Gino said...

anybody who thinks even all blacks are alike ought to spend time with a small town midwesterner, an urban dweller, and an african immigrant.
altogether, at the same time.