Award-winning filmmaker and Selma director Ava DuVernay offered some sage and very useful advice to consider on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for MTV’s MLK Day special #TheTalk, where celebrities, activists and politicians share their insights and conversations they’ve had about race.
“We need to expand our minds to appreciate our differences. To be colorblind, is not a thing I don’t think that one should boast about. See color and celebrate it. See our differences and celebrate it. When somebody says to me, ‘I’m colorblind. I don’t see color,’ I’m thinking ‘You’re missing out on a lot of beautiful colors,'” DuVernay advised.
And she’s right.
Conversations about race and recognition of other people’s differences are met with uneasiness and unwillingness by those in positions of privilege, to acknowledge that it’s actually okay to be different and for people to celebrate their differences. Often, people will adopt a color-blind ideology as a way to avoid having to dismantle institutional racism and racial microaggressions.
According to a 2011 article by clinical psychologist Dr. Monnica T. Williams, for Psychology Today, colorblind ideology is a form of racism, because it allows people to deny the cultural differences and personal experiences of others.
“… [C]olorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism.”
“In a colorblind society, white people, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society. Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.”
To commemorate Dr. King’s birthday and in recognition of the civil rights march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery, it’s essential to allow people their personal narratives, to recognize the current anti-racism/anti-oppression activism that’s unfolding around the country, and to note people’s differences–the key is to respect those differences and to not marginalize someone because of their race, ethnicity, gender or class, and to recognize their humanity.
[Video H/t – The Hollywood Reporter]