“What’s so wrong about being colorblind? Why can’t we just focus on each other’s hearts?”
I was on the phone with a dear friend and fellow parent — a sweet, kind, loving sister in Christ — who was feeling utterly distraught about the issue of colorblindness. Her question was sincere. She wanted to raise Jesus-loving children who saw people’s hearts and not just their skin color. “Isn’t that the goal?” she wondered.
I sat with my friend’s question for some time. Was it possible to see someone’s heart without seeing their skin color? I wasn’t too sure, but I understood the sentiment of wanting to focus on a person’s inner qualities instead of their external features.
People are shaped by their place in history, and even my friend’s perspective had historical roots. She had been raised in the aftermath of the civil rights era, a time that heralded the idea of being colorblind as a new and healthier way forward for race relations. In fact, the term colorblind is borrowed right from the last part of Dr. King’s speech where he says he wants people to see his children for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. A lot of well-meaning Christians, like my friend, ran with that term in the seventies and eighties, wanting to prove that they weren’t using skin color as justification to treat people unequally, and they taught their children to hold a similar posture.
But now the pendulum has shifted. In 2022, Black and Brown folks are raising their voices and pleading for others to see the color of their skin, and a lot of Christian parents don’t understand why. Why should we see color? Why should Christian parents talk about color with their kids? Is it biblical to make a big deal about skin tones and different cultural and racialized experiences?
What I’ve found in my own life as a second-generation, bicultural, Indian American woman is that one of the unintended consequences for well-meaning folks who strive to be colorblind is that they become blind to my lived experiences as an ethnic minority. In an attempt to treat us all the same vis-à-vis not seeing Black, Brown, or white, people’s racialized experiences of everything from profiling, micro aggressions, racism, police brutality, and more get swept under the rug. It’s easy for folks who say “I don’t see color” to also not see the laws, policies, and zoning that create gaps in education and wealth equality along racial lines. In other words, when I say, “See the color of my skin,” what I’m asking you to see is my racialized experiences of suffering and pain.
Undoubtedly, I am more than my flesh, but I am not less than my skin color. God created me on purpose as a brown-skinned woman, and my cultural identity reflects God’s image in the world. Moreover, I operate in a brown-skinned body every day, and people treat me as a brown-skinned person. So, if you want to understand my heart, my story, and all of who I am, you have to see the totality of my life’s experiences.
The thing is, when we believe that colorblindness is the way and teach our children to be colorblind, we miss out on a fundamental part of who God is. God is El Roi, the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). God sees all of us — our skin color, our culture, our pains, our joys. If we want our children to see people like God does, we must see in color. God designed us to be “color-blessed,” in the words of Pastor Derwin Gray. To see the world in color is a blessing. God created us diverse on purpose. Each of us, in our unique and vibrant hues, reflects the image of God in the world. We get to acknowledge each other’s color as part of how we celebrate the beautiful God-given uniqueness of each individual. In other words, seeing color is the portal into people’s lived realities. Seeing color is the portal into their hearts. When we see color, we begin to recognize the full humanity in each other, and how glorious it is!
Seeing someone’s heart and seeing the color of their skin isn’t an either/or but a both/and.
Perhaps this wasn’t what you were taught growing up. Perhaps this feels totally new and uncomfortable. I want to assure you that that’s okay. This is an invitation for all of us to become race-wise as followers of Jesus and to lean into a more Spirit-led understanding of skin color and race-related issues that resonates with God’s heart for all His image bearers. Being race-wise, for us as individuals and as families, simply means bringing issues like the question of being colorblind before the Lord and asking for His help to move forward in wisdom, clarity, and love. So, let’s keep striving to get to know each other fully, especially our friends, neighbors, and coworkers of other cultures. Let’s teach our children to see each other’s hearts, to celebrate the full humanity of one another, and let’s use gospel-centered, race-wise lenses to do so.
The Race-Wise Family: Ten Postures to Becoming Households of Healing and Hope is a timely resource by Helen Lee and (in)courage contributor Michelle Ami Reyes. It will equip Christian parents to better understand the roots of racism and provide practical guidance on addressing issues of race within their families. Practical and engaging, The Race-Wise Family offers immediately applicable action steps to help you raise kingdom-minded kids who will stand against racial injustice as an outpouring of their relationship with God. Deeply rooted in Scripture, the book includes:
• key biblical insights for understanding a theology of race
• discussion questions, prayers, and conversation starters for your whole family
• age-appropriate ideas for discussing current events with your kids and teens
• guidance for addressing the roots of racial bias in the world and your own heart
• activities and resources you can use with kids of all ages to be part of hope and healing in your community
The Race-Wise Family will help you and your kids celebrate the diversity of God’s kingdom as you take small steps that will make a difference in the world for generations. Enter to WIN one of five copies today! Just leave a comment today with what this book could mean to you!
Then join Michelle and (in)courage community manager Becky Keife for a discussion all about The Race-Wise Family! Tune in tomorrow, 5/18/22, on our Facebook page at 11am CST for their conversation.
Love this Michelle! Such great wisdom. I would love to read, learn, grow, gain knowledge to be more Race-Wise, and loving to all God’s children… What a beautiful array of colors He created! Our God is an awesome God. Thank you for being bold to write and bring awareness of how to love others and see others in Christ!!
Race wise family after read introduce me to celebrate the diversity of God’s kingdom and share lessons learned with those in gods plan that cross our path.
Brenda M. Russell says
Good morning Everyone, how timely is this subject today. I am so thankful for diversity in society. I know God is working on many platforms to show Believers that we sometimes forget that God is Agape God, He loves without restraints, He loves because He is Love, Jesus made the Precious Sacrifice of Love to bridge that awful gap of unrighteousness between humanity and our Creator. Now we Believers have a blessed opportunity to shine with God’s Love every day. Now, we cannot love without accepting God’s Love and Forgiveness for our lives. When we truly receive this Love and Forgiveness, we can only share it with others, no restraints. Yes, it can take a lifetime to steward this Agape Love, but God is our Teacher.
I am ready to talk to others about my life and experiences growing up in the south. My Grandmother is the reason I know the Love of Christ, she taught by example and she talked about The Bible and what God likes. God loves obedience and He blesses obedience. If you don’t understand obedience, ask God for His Wisdom. There is no way you can go wrong if you have surrendered your heart and your life to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Words are powerful, God spoke and it was manifested. If we speak what is truth no one can take offense. If we ask God to guide the conversations, and we remove selfishness, pride, revenge, past hurts, past injustices and wrong perspectives (that God does not respect) we can start over, like in Kindergarten.
All mothers who are emotionally healthy knows what it is to love their children. We Believers are God’s Beloved Children. Don’t you want to see our children and grandchildren have a better perspective from day to day in their future. Let’s pray and ask God for His Wisdom and Guidance.
Chris Black says
The book Race Wise Family sounds like it is a timely resource for families as they struggle with current events and sharing the truth of the gospel to the events with their children.
Michelle, thank you. This is such an important conversation and I am grateful for your witness and wisdom. Please keep writing.
Thank you for writing this book! “Seeing someone’s heart and seeing the color of their skin isn’t an either/or but a both/and.” As followers of Christ, it’s so important to follow Him in every way. I pray that any blind spots in our faith and walk are brought to light.
Michelle, this is an issue that I continue to struggle with. You have given me some insight to consider. Thank you. While I never want to think of anyone as being inferior or superior or any less loved by God based on the color of their skin, I would also not want to lose or miss the beauty of our cultural differences and experiences and all the ways God made us different.
Robin Dance says
Michelle, I am so thankful for your words, your insight, your patience, your wisdom, your depth, your obedience…so many reasons to celebrate ALL you’re willing to share with our community (and our world). I wish I had had this book when my children were young, to help guide me in parenting, to give words to what my inexperience couldn’t articulate.
Forever ago I claimed colorblindness until I learned the beauty of seeing in full color. It helped to have people patiently speaking their truth and experience so I could understand. I’m a grateful recipient of grace…our Lord’s, yes, but also so many friends :).
Tracey Wesonga says
Good morning. This past Sunday, our church, The Church of the Nativity, just “opened” a library filled with books for children and adults that show and teach Christian based diversity, and the importance of seeing people as God so lovingly and purposefully created them to be. Some books also highlight the pain and experiences of marginalized people. I believe your book is needed in our collection. Either way thank you for writing it.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I thank you for writting the book. Sharing your storie today. I believe we can see into people hearts. No matter what sink colour they are. Even if colour blind. As we can see into their hearts by the way they live their lives. I believe if saved. As an old Children song I learnt at Sunday School. That God’s still wants us to love people of all racis and colour no matter who they are. If colour blind can’t see the true colour of their skin. Love them like Jesus would as we are all Children of Jesus. Jesus never when alive looked at what colour the person skin was he just loved them no matter what. Like the song I was taught at Sunday School. We are to do the same. The song is “Jesus Loves all the Children of the world red and yellow black and white.” We that have Children can do that teach them this song. Plus look at how Jesus fed 5000 plus people and kids with two loaves and fives fish. Jesus that day wouldn’t have cared what skin colour they do were. Or if he was colour blind. He just show them love by Feeding them. As they followed him to hear him speak learn from him. He show them back that great love. So we are to do the same. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little in my prayers xxx
To become race-wise and have that perspective would allow Christ and love to shine in ways that affirm each other as unique individuals and connect us in better understanding of each other
Terresa Mountain says
I would like to learn more about how not to be “colorblind” … I am one who loves people for their heart, and apparently that is not enough.
Cindy R. says
Such an important topic that needs to be explored more. Would love to read this and have friends read it and follow it up with a heart-to-heart conversation. . . .
Ariel Krienke says
I’ve been abused my whole life as well but that doesn’t mean I wear it on my sleeve and everyone should know about it. We are all God’s children. This is the most important. The abuse I went through I had to heal from through God’s love. But I don’t demand others see it and know how to treat me. I understand the pain of abuse but we are healed in the family of God. That is most important. We need to love each other as God’s children as members of heaven. Earth doesn’t matter. We don’t need to remember the pain of earth. We need to look forward to heaven.
As a child of the 80s,who was taught to be colorblind, I appreciate your explanation. Thank you!
Deb Lewis says
This book sounds amazing. I think much of our difficulty lies in misunderstanding. As a White person it is demeaning to other races to overlook color. Skin color affects one’s whole life experience. We all must acknowledge each others’ experiences and how these are a part of who we are. I would love to read this book to better understand how we as a world overcome racism and prejudice. I lead a diversity faculty group and always want to learn and share more new ideas. Thank you for writing this book! God sees our heart and wants to unite all nations. I need this additional, Biblically based guidance.
Beth Williams says
I am ignorant of the sufferings of others. I was raised in a predominately white neighborhood. For the past 18 years have lived in a small town & attended a church out in the country. We don’t get much diversity there. That being said I love people for the hearts. When I see a person I don’t judge by skin color, but by their actions & heart. God created us all uniquely. We should celebrate that uniqueness & try to understand their sufferings & pain. Thanks for writing an informative book that will hopefully help end some racism & create loving children.
The Bible says that God does not look at the outward appearance He looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 Also says there is no slave or free, male nor female nor Jew or Greek all are one in Christ Galatians 3:28 I believe God is clear about what His Word teaches us and that we are not to see color or culture.
Jennifer Haynie says
“In other words, when I say, ‘See the color of my skin,’ what I’m asking you to see is my racialized experiences of suffering and pain.”
I think this quote from your post nails it so perfectly. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you! This was a new way of thinking for me. I love your term: Color-Blessed!
Danielle L says
Love this article. This book would be so helpful as I learn and explore how to have these conversations with my daughter. It really important to me to be intentional and loving and respectful of others’ experiences as we live in a very diverse area and most of her friends are not white like she is.
We have made an effort to raise our girls in a diverse environment. But communicating our own privileges as opposed to their friends of color is one that I struggle to find the words for. I look forward to reading this book as a part of this journey.
I so agree with the post by Ariel. I signed up for incourage emails to get away from the hyper focus on racial issues. There’s too much chaos from all the groups competing for victim status. Everyone should be proud of who they are and where they came from.
Kathy McKinsey says
This sounds like a book I’d love to share with my family.