This post has languished in drafts for a while.
I’d work on it, the words wouldn’t flow or feel timely, I’d save the snippet I’d crafted hoping eventually I’d feel a sense of urgency to complete it.
I’d resurrect the draft when well-meaning friends remarked they don’t think of the Child as adopted because they don’t see color.
I’d tweak some sentences when I’d recall the very recent past when I used that same phrase.
I’d re-save my writing in draft-mode when I’d conclude, at that moment, my voice had nothing to add to the silence.
And the Child developed strong opinions of her own.
I watched as she created a self-definition entirely independent from mine.
I observed how she introduced herself to new friends and really heard the words she selected to describe herself.
I don’t see color.
It had taken some time, but life had taught me the phrase I’d thought conveyed liberal, open-mindedness was, in fact, a disservice.
How when, in an attempt to show I believed us all the same/equal, I’d claimed I didn’t see color I was denying a large part of the person whose color I insisted I did not see.
I was reminded of an interaction with a stranger when the Child was a toddler.
She’s adorable, the woman said. Is she yours? When I indicated yes, without missing a beat, the stranger responded:
Where did the color come from?
In the moment her comment shocked me. With hindsight the interaction felt offensive. Now, years later, I view the remark as odd, but far less objectionable than I’d initially thought.
The color-question sparked a conversation about where the Child was born and the complicated nature of international adoption. Sure, the woman’s phrasing left a bit to be desired, yet had she ‘not seen color’ an opportunity for a frank conversation between strangers would have been missed.
As the Child matures it’s become clear others not seeing her skin color serves to eliminate a large piece of her identity/history about which she’s tremendously proud.
Disregarding color, and this has been a challenging lesson for me to learn, makes her and the rest of us the same.
And we are not.
As a human I see color and to insist otherwise would be a lie. I may not feel comfortable asking about differences or I may choose to ignore them—but I notice they are there.
Last weekend at our Synagogue’s Family Service the Child pointed out a Black woman and her young son.
“I love seeing her here every week,” she said to me.
“I’ve noticed her too,” I responded.
“Her skin is a different color from everyone else just like mine is and it makes me comfy she’s here.”
It was her final sentence which sparked this post to emerge from drafts.
It’s not just OK to acknowledge we see color–it’s crucial.
Acknowledging awareness of differences may initially be uncomfortable for some (raises hand) but skin color impacts our every interaction and to pretend otherwise is naive.
To insist we don’t see color is to tell my child I can see who you are *despite* the color of your skin.
I’ve chosen to press publish on this even though, given the current (finger quote) climate (unFQ), I fear it may spark ugly disagreement.
That is not my intent.
My desire is simply to share my personal realizations and, as always, turn the question back to you.
Both in curiosity and in an effort to normalize my world.
- Have you experienced a similar seismic shift in perspective? How did it look & feel like for you?