Seeing Colors

I was out on a walk with a friend in a tony part of town when we happened upon a store of note. The first thing I noticed was how diverse the store attendants were or put in a less delicate manner - I noticed that the store attendants were Black. This was immediately noticeable to me because (1) I am Brown and (2) I am very aware that this tony part of town has few, if any, Black inhabitants, much less storekeepers.

After leaving the store, I remarked to my White friend that the store attendants were a surprise in that part of town.  My White friend remarked, "I didn't notice" in a tone that I often hear when people say "I don't see color."

At that point, I seriously considered knocking her upside her head, but instead I settled for the increasing disappointment I feel with many White friends. I am more and more aware that I can't have an honest conversation with them about a topic that is not only important to me, but also one I live every day: race.

I was having difficulty articulating my dissatisfaction and unease with this "I don't see color" sentiment, and then I hit on this quote (emphasis mine):

"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;' who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.'

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.