By Brandon Randall, Guest Contributor
Listen up White people, this one is for you.
I’m sure that whether it was in a classroom, a PTA meeting, or during professional development, we have all heard another White person say “oh, I don’t see color” or “I don’t care if you’re black, white, blue, or purple,” or “We’re really all the same, we all bleed red.” Sigh. The concept of colorblindness is not only a passive aggressive way of avoiding race-relate…d discussions, but it is a method of erasing the racial, cultural, and ethnic gifts possessed by people of color.
This is especially important in our nation’s current climate of saturated news stories of another unarmed person of color killed by law enforcement or Black and Brown patrons kicked out of establishments for no reason other than their skin color. The impact of these situations can be felt in the pain and frustration of our students. In “Colorblind Education is the Wrong Response,” Dan French and Warren Simmons discuss the classroom response to the protests in Baltimore after Freddie Gray died while in police custody. The question was raised on why it took this major incident for the school district and teachers to discuss race in the classroom. For White teachers who teach in classrooms of primarily students of color, there can be a cultural disconnect that fosters this colorblind, “All Lives Matter” methodology as a safety net to mask insecurity and the “unsure.” This approach is problematic and can cause a lack of engagement as students may not feel invested or equitably understood. French and Simmons mention that research shows using curriculum and instruction around race and the impact of racism in school promotes a sense of belonging and empowerment for students of color (2015). The absence of this specific curriculum can cause the same students to feel invisible and erased.
Franchesca Ramsey said it best on MTV’s Decoded, “impact is greater than intent.” While White teachers may have the best intentions on treating all students the same, the reality is individual identities need to be affirmed. The curriculum and the faculty need to be representative of the demographics of the student and community population.
*Disclaimer: The term colorblind is referenced in the article of this blog; however, there is an awareness that the term could be replaced with “color neutral” to avoid the possibility of ableist identification.
Brandon Randall is a is an Educational Leadership Master of Arts student in the IU School of Education at IUPUI.