White People Who Say They’re Color Blind Are Missing the Point 

 June 7, 2020

By  N. J. Lindquist

Photo copyright Rawpixel on Deposit Photos

People come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. So when you say you’re going to be “color blind,” what you’re really saying is that you’re going to ignore (or try to ignore) other people’s skin color. But if you ignore people’s skin color, what else do you have to ignore? Their hair? How tall they are? The shape of their chin? The look in their eyes? It’s impossible to me to truly ignore the color of the skin of someone standing in front of me—just as it’s impossible for you to ignore the color of my skin.

If I ignore the color of your skin, I can’t see you

The obvious response is to wish we could all have the same color of skin. And at first glance, that might seem like a good idea. Except that if God had intended for us to all have same skin color, the world would have to have been made differently than it is. Because God’s making the world the way it is was one of the primary causes of the variation in skin color. We have different colors of skin because of where we live in relation to the sun, who our ancestors married, and the foods we eat.

Don’t believe me? Google it. Most of the results will be the same as this one.

If you want a “Christian” response, there’s this one.

I'd rather have 20/20 vision than be color blind.

Picture copyright monkeybusiness on Deposit Photos

What I mean by that is that when I see people—like for example the three boys above—I want to see them for who they are. I see three adorable boys. But I don’t know how it’s even possible to pretend I can ignore the color of their skin, any more than I can ignore the kind of hair they have, or the look in their eyes.

One has light beige pinkish skin and the other two have brownish skin—the boy on the left a clear medium brown and the boy on the right a slightly darker brown.

I also can’t ignore that the boy in the middle has longish blond hair, the one on the left short dark hair—almost black, and the head of the boy on the right has been shaved so his curls are hidden unless you look closely.

The question is, when we look at this picture, do we feel love for all the boys, or do we feel it for only one boy?

The key is to realize that every variation of skin color is beautiful

How could anyone look at these boys and think that one is better or more worthy than the others because of his skin color?

And yet there are people who do.

For me, the problem we’re facing has nothing to do with skin color but is about the need many people have for wealth, power, and control.

There are history books written on how people moved through the world, but the key fact for me is that the people of Europe, in particular those of the England, Spain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands became so strong that they were able to move out to other continents, invading and conquering the Indigenous people who were already there. It happened in North and South America, in Africa, Australia, India, and many smaller nations.

And because the invading nations were powerful, with advanced weapons and organization, they ruled with an iron fist, and many of the people who lived in those nations died, either during the conquest or from smallpox and other diseases their conquerors brought with them.

Of those remaining, many were forced to be slaves or servants, and others were forced to move to areas where the land wasn’t as good and they were often mistreated.

What does all that have to do with skin color?

Just this. Since the conquering forces were all shades of one color—what we call “white”—and the people conquered were of darker “not white” colors, it became almost automatic for the darker-skinned people to be seen as lesser. So the emboldened conquerors used their victories to denigrate those people and treat them as if they were lesser humans.

In my view, the resulting slavery and poverty were caused primarly by two things: the lust for power, and the belief that some people are worth more than others and therefore ought to be the rulers.

White supremacy is simply a desire to contnue to be the conquerors

Pretending to be color blind ignores the reality that the people who are racist are doing their best to keep people of other colors from being seen as equals.

What we are seeing right now in the US is a struggle between the white people who want to continue to be the conquerors and to rule everyone else against the people of every other color (even many white people) who have been trying for many years to create true equality where everyone is seen as having the same value and the same rights.

Many of us, and I include myself here, grew up without even realizing that by being born white, we automatically had privileges that the rest of the people didn’t have—would never have. Even the wealthiest Black person or the most famous Black athlete or actor or musician is still in danger of being seen only by their color. There are individuals and even police who are willing, even eager, to kill a Black person simply because of the color of their skin.

I was reminded recently of a song I sang long ago in Sunday school.

I'm sure most of us know it.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Lyrics by George F. Root

On one level, I don’t have a problem with the song because it’s 100% true. Jesus does love all the children of the world. He loves all the adults, too. The good ones and the bad ones. Every. Single. One.

But on another level, I have a serious problem with the song.

I’m pretty sure that when we sang it in Sunday school or church, we were thinking about darker-skinned people in what we call third-world countries (countries the white skinned people did a lot to destroy). We were thinking of people who had come to rely on the help of white missionaries, shoe boxes with trinkets at Christmas, or monthly monetary gifts to help them have enough food or to get any sort of education. And while I’m not implying that the desire to help people is a bad thing, I am saying that it was very easy for us to feel superior while we were singing this song or donating to missions.

We’re not nearly as comfortable with the darker-skinned people living in the house next door, sending their children to “our” schools, getting equal pay to work in the same company as us, or—horrors!—being promoted to be our managers.

The truth is, far too many people who sang that song as children grew up with a mindset that implied it was okay to treat people with different-colored skin as if they weren’t equal to us. We wanted them to stay in their place.

Honestly, we’ve often treated them as if we thought God didn’t love them as much as he did us. As if they ought to be satisfied with having a place to live and enough food to eat, and if they didn’t make something of themselves, it was because they must be lazy. Worse, we’ve thrown many of them in jail for minor offences and carded and targeted them, and acted as if they should be content with whatever scraps we give them.

It’s as if we actually believed that even God loves people with light skin more than those with darker skin.

Do you look at these kids and believe that each of them should be able to grow up to be anything they want?

Picture copyright monkeybusiness on Deposit Photos

God does. Each child, regardless of skin color, was created with particular skills and open-ended possibilities. But how many people have never had the opportunity of becoming all they were meant to be because of the rules and boundaries created by white individuals or groups who chose to exert their power to keep everyone else from having what they have?

When the world was created, God designed it in such a way that the various skin colors would appear depending on which part of the world we lived in. This wasn’t an accident. The colors were always part of us.

I think this is a test. And if so, many of us are failing!

Jesus said this.

Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. (Matthew 7:21, NCV)

And what does the Father in Heaven want?

Jesus said to all of them, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NCV)

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other. (John 13:34–35, NCV)

Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37–40, NCV)

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems pretty simple to me. God wants our lives to be filled with love: love for God, love for ourselves, and love for one other.

Photo copyright Brett Jorgensen on Shutterstock

All skin colors are tones of the same color

Jesus loves all of us exactly the same. Every white person. Every black person. Every brown person…. Every single one. And he wants us to treat each other with love. This is not something conquerors do. So we need to put that mindset away.

Those of us who call ourselves by the name of Christ need to think hard and long about what is most important: being seen as conquerors or being the kind of people who try hard to love everyone.

I would add that just as each snowflake is unique, so each person is unique. Just as all white-skinned people aren’t alike, neither are all darker-skinned people people. We need to help each person become the best individual they can be.

Remember this song? Think about the lyrics. Picture the children it’s talking about.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus died for all the children of the world.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Revised version by Donna J. Krieger, George F. Root

By the way, in case, like me, you occasionally need a reminder. Jesus wasn’t white. 

He’d have been in the middle of the skin tone spectrum. 

Researchers say he’d have looked something like the picture below. His disciples were likely similar in appearance.

Using forensic techniques, retired medical artist Richard Neave has recreated the face of Jesus (pictured)Photo Credit: BBC/Red Vision.

Instead of being color blind, we need to be color aware.

Those of us are white need to need to recognize the privilege we have simply by being born with the color of skin we have. And we need to recognize that every color of skin is beautiful, and was part of God’s plan.

And we need to do all that we can to protect people of darker skin tones from those who still want to be seen as conquerors, whether they are individuals, police officers, or elected officials.

We need to show our children and communities how Christ-followers act.

What if we don’t feel love for people with darker skins?

We need to act as if we do.

I used to teach a training class for Sunday school teachers, and I know that almost every class has a child or even a couple of children that are really hard to like. But what I told the teachers is that our job isn’t to like them; our job is to act in love toward them.

And it works! 

Sure, sometimes it’s hard. But the funny thing is that when you act as if you love someone, you often end up not only loving them but liking them, too.

Love is an action, not an emotion.

No one said loving others is easy. But it’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Even if we start by acting in love toward one person who might not be easy for us to love, it’s a beginning. 

N. J. Lindquist

N. J. Lindquist is the award-winning author of books, articles, short stories, and blog posts. She also edits and publishes the "Hot Apple Cider" anthologies. A former high school teacher, N. J. co-founded The Word Guild and teaches workshops for writers as well as speaking on various topics including creativity and leadership.

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  • Thank you for this timely reminder.

    The second verse of that Sunday School song is:
    Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.
    English, Irish, Dutch and Jew. Polish and Italian too.
    Jesus loves the little children of the world.

    All western European and very much Caucasian or white as they are referred as in the first verse. 100% correct but the writer just did not even realize that that was a subtle slight on the vast majority of the rest of the world. Yes all lives matter but the 99 sleep left safely in the fold when the Shepard went after the 1 mattered just as much hence the reason they were left in the fold. the 1 who wandered away needed help. In stead of feeling slighted and offended insisting, correctly, that all lives matter lets all try to remember to help the 1 who is not as fortunate as we are regardless of their colour or creed because “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.” Full Stop!

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