Why Saying You’re ‘Colorblind’ Doesn’t Mean You’re Less Racist


Actress Zoe Saldana recently talked about how her experience in Hollywood — specifically, acting in sci-fi movies — gave her the ability to be colorblind in the real world.

She told Australia's Daily Telegraph,

I think science fiction has given me the ability as an artist to be colorblind and gender-blind, and to imagine and reinvent myself and be the chameleon actors are supposed to be.

Saldana is the same actress who didn't understand the backlash surrounding her playing Nina Simone in the 2016 film, "Nina."

For clarity, the backlash was because of producers hiring Saldana and painting her skin darker, instead of just paying a dark-skinned actress to play Simone.

This is important, since dark-skinned women get so little representation in Hollywood. Nina Simone was also a singer known for fighting against colorism and racism, which makes the choice all the more odd.

And then, there was that BET interview where Saldana declared "people of color don't exist." It has since been removed.

And this is why her latest comments made eyes roll:

In reluctant fairness, Saldana likely means well.

As most people who cop to being colorblind do, she probably just doesn't want to be defined by or deemed inferior because of her race.

But here's what "colorblind" people overlook:

Your selective sight ostracizes more than it helps.

"I don't see color" is often said by people who want to prove they are not bound to race. But that's erasure, and it also dismisses the very real experiences people of color have every day.

When employers don't see color, that means they also probably don't notice how white their offices are. Or how tone-deaf their marketing is... word to Pepsi.

When spouses in interracial relationships don't see color, the partner of color probably goes through a lot of racist shit without adequate compassion from his or her significant other.  And again, this is not because he or she doesn't care, but because he or she doesn't notice or understand.

It's hard for a person of color to foster any type of trust or healthy communication with anyone who willfully doesn't see all of the person.

We are being pulled over and unjustly arrested, barred from jobs, denied housing, beaten, shot and killed in front of our families... all because of this color you swear you can't see.

Colorblindness isn't comforting: It's a copout.

And it doesn't stop racism from raging on.