Can you imagine wanting to be colorblind? And yet I hear that hope all the time.
When I speak with people about ethnic and racial diversity, it’s not long before I hear, “I don’t see color. I’m colorblind! My parents taught me not to see color.”
The phrase is trying to express that all people are people, and that color doesn’t matter. I’ve also heard colorblindness cited as a defense against racism: “I’m not racist. I love all people. In fact, I’m colorblind.”
But I disagree.
I’d like to suggest that we aren’t colorblind, we don’t need to be colorblind, and we actually should strive to not be colorblind. Colorblindness leads us in the wrong direction. Instead, I want to encourage us to be colorsmart. Here are four reasons why.
1. It’s Not Realistic
I’m an African-American woman. I cannot—and crucially, I have no desire to—erase the fact that God made me this way. There’s no hiding my milky-brown, freckled skin. I am who I am. When I walk into a room and I’m the only black woman, it’s obvious. I know it; you know it; we all know it. It’s ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
This doesn’t mean we need to act awkward around each other. If we’ve embraced the fact that God has created us as equals, there’s no reason for awkwardness. If you encounter someone ethnically different from you, it’s unrealistic, unhelpful, and possibly unloving to pretend you don’t notice. When your child says, “Mommy, why is that woman wearing a dot on her forehead?” don’t shush him quiet out of embarrassment. Take the question as an opportunity to positively explain her culture.
Instead of pretending we’re colorblind, let’s celebrate God’s creation and be colorsmart.
2. It Misses the Opportunity to Celebrate God’s Good Design
Colorblindness seeks to ignore or flatten the differences between us. Being colorsmart, however, enables us to see others as crafted in God’s image—just like us—while still acknowledging the beauty of our differences. We’re all equally created to reflect aspects of our Creator God. Nevertheless, he creates each of us uniquely. This should be proactively acknowledged and celebrated rather than fearfully ignored.
The reality is we’re not all the same in regard to skin color, interests, likes, gifts, and desires. God made us differently for a purpose: his manifold glory. Instead of striving to be colorblind, then, let’s recognize these differences in ways that express genuine love for neighbor and gratitude for the beauty of God’s flawless design.
Don’t we want to celebrate who God designed us to be? We should want our kids to rejoice that God created them the way they are and others the way they are. That’s the beautiful reality of creation.
3. The Gospel Is for All Nations
The most important reason to be colorsmart is that the gospel is for every nation. God celebrates his creation and redemption of all kinds of people.
The Bible tells us that we sinned, putting everything out of order, leading to the racial hatred we tragically see throughout history and still today. But Scripture also shows us how God is working for the redemption of all people through Christ. He’s glorified now when redeemed rebels from all nations worship him as one. We can see the fulfillment of his promise to redeem every tribe, tongue, and nation when we gather, fellowship, and worship with those who are different from us.
4. We Will Rejoice in Color Forever
We shouldn’t be colorblind, because God doesn’t erase these distinctions in Scripture, and because they endure into eternity. Revelation 5 shows us a beautiful picture of every color, tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping together around the throne. The Lord’s mission is to reconcile all things—us to himself, then us to one another. We will spend eternity in a new creation filled—gloriously!—with people of all backgrounds and colors.
So instead of pretending like we’re colorblind, let’s celebrate God’s creation and be colorsmart. Instead of pretending there are no differences, let’s get to know one another. The pursuit of ethnic harmony doesn’t require us to ignore how God uniquely designed us. But it does require sacrifice. As we celebrate our differences, we will grow to love the nations, and reach out to them with the gospel of grace as we embrace our God-given differences.
Editors’ note: This originally appeared at The Good Book Company. You can pre-order Trillia’s new children’s book, God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story of God’s Delightfully Different Family.
Join ERLC and The Gospel Coalition at a special event, “MLK50: Gospel Reflections from the Mountaintop,” taking place April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Speakers include Russell Moore, Benjamin Watson, John Piper, Jackie Hill Perry, Matt Chandler, Eric Mason, Don Carson, and many others.
The 50th anniversary of King’s tragic death marks an opportunity for Christians to reflect on the state of racial unity in the church and the culture. It creates the occasion to reflect on where Christians have been and look ahead to where we must go as we pursue justice in the midst of tremendous tension.
Register now: MLK50conference.com.