I Don’t See Race.
BY C.L. MAH
[Originally published May 16, 2013.]
Many decades ago, racism was a huge problem in this country, but today, it hardly even exists, thanks largely to individuals like me who just don’t see race. Society has benefited from an increasing number of people who, like me, are simply race-blind and literally cannot tell a black man from a Chinese one without some kind of outside assistance. Because I see all people as having the same generic, beige-colored skin, I never have to think about race, so racism simply isn’t an issue for me.
To me, the color of someone’s skin never even crosses my mind, as long as it is white-ish. No one could ever accuse me of being racist, because I have at least one friend of every race. I think. Is Jewish a race? Anyways, what I was saying is that I have at least one friend who is Asian, and I am so color-blind that I didn’t even know he was Asian for three years until I heard him talking on the phone with his mom in a language I didn’t understand, and I was like, “What are those ridiculous sounds you are making?” When he told me he was Chinese, I was really surprised because he talks English so good. But I am glad he told me, because now that I know he is Chinese, I am able to connect with him on a more personal level by wearing my Jeremy Lin Rockets jersey when we hang out and constantly trying to set him up with my Korean neighbor whose name I forget. If he hadn’t told me he was Japanese, I would have never known and probably would have just kept treating him like any other white person, which probably would have made him feel uncomfortable.
Similarly, I did not know that a person at my office was black until I asked him, “Are you black?” I knew there was something different about him, but because I am so race-blind, I just couldn’t put my finger on it until I asked. Plus, he always wore really expensive suits to work, which I thought was something only white people did. I was thrilled to learn that he was black, because I have always wanted a black friend, so I asked him if he wanted to chillax at my cribizzle on Fridizzle, and then he reported me to HR and now I no longer work at his company.
Funny things like that are always happening to me because of my inability to see race. For instance, how I like to tell race jokes when I am with white people, but sometimes I forget that a color person is there and no one laughs. Or, how I like to tease my white friends by jokingly calling them racial slurs, but because I cannot distinguish between my white friends and my color friends, sometimes I accidentally call one of my color friends a word which sometimes is the right slur for their race but other times isn’t. But in any case it explains why I do not have many ethnicity friends.
No one can accuse me of being racist, because I have my one Asian friend and one black former coworker. Although, I am still trying to make friends with a Mexican, an Eskimo, and someone from the Middle East. It doesn’t matter where—Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan—just so long as it is a place that Americans associate with terrorism so that I can bring him to parties and show everyone how progressive and race-blind I am that I am friends with someone from a terrorist country. I know this will make a lot of my white friends nervous, but I will put their minds at ease by loudly reassuring everyone that my friend is not a terrorist. Unless I am not sure if he is a terrorist or not, in which case I will just tell everyone to be alert.
Not only am I race-blind, I am also sex-blind, meaning that I cannot tell the difference between people of different sexes. I cannot tell men from women, which often makes dating quite confusing. Also, using public restrooms. Moreover, I am age-blind and have a hard time telling toddlers apart from elderly people. I mean, both are small and walk funny, am I right? Really, I have such a forward-thinking perspective that to me, all people are distinguishable only by height.
If everyone were as race-blind as me, racism would become a thing of the past, like Indians and unicorns. People would stop discriminating based on race and start discriminating based on more important things like disabilities and sexual orientation. Regardless of your race, we are all humans with warm blood, two legs, and three nipples. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you pass gas, do we not gag? The answer to both is yes, because these are not rhetorical questions, and I spent the past hour stabbing myself and farting to confirm. In the grand scheme of things, what matters most in life is not the color of your skin, but the color of your hair and the shape of your eyes. But it actually does help if you’re white.
SUGGESTED READSField Notes from Gentrified Places: The Stakes, ft. Paul Mooney
by Vinson Cunningham (12/2/2014)
Recent Newspaper Headlines Explained (Part Two)
by Marny Requa (1/13/1999)
Nora Ephron Feels Bad About Barack Obama’s Neck
by Rick Moranis (12/19/2006)
RECENTLYSorry I’m Late, But This Morning’s Commute Was a Killer
by Andrew Cushing (3/2/2015)
Hungover Bear and Friends: Coming Back
by Ali Fitzgerald (3/2/2015)
My Own Private Shock Corridor: Dove Dumps and Hooch Zombies
by Bob Schneider (3/2/2015)
POPULARList: What a Straight Man’s Favorite Musical Says About Him
by Mara Wilson (2/10/2015)
Reasons You Were Not Promoted That are Totally Unrelated to Gender
by Homa Mojtabai (1/27/2015)
Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan
by Paul William Davies (12/26/2012)