"I Don't See Color"
Not too long ago Jackie Aina, a beauty vlogger, made a video entitled "I Don't See Color". In her video she spoke about how problematic this notion is for the beauty community and how hypocritical the beauty community is. She mentioned how large, mainstream beauty brands barely take the time and energy to create a range of products that work for people with dark skin tones (people of color) but release wide ranges of products for people with fair skin (white people). 50 Shades of Beige anyone? She has been a Youtuber for 10 years now and has been an advocate for inclusion in the beauty industry. For this reason, she is often the target of racists attacks and people saying she is racist or "playing the race card" for focusing too much on beauty products not being available for dark skin tones. Even though she has dark skin, is a professional beauty blogger/guru/MUA, and it is literally her JOB to use and review makeup brands/products. How can she do her job if the products are not there?
Anyway, I won't get into all of what she spoke about because her video is available on Youtube for anyone who is interested in what she has to say. I want to talk about the notion of people using the phrase "I don't see color" as a way to point out that they are not racist or prejudice. I have spoken about this in private conversations but never publicly. While I understand that for most people the statement is supposed to mean, "we are all equal", it still annoys the hell out of me! When I hear those words I hear, "I have to ignore that part of your identity that makes you different than me so that I can see you as my equal." Is my identity, my existence, as a BLACK woman that problematic? Why can't you see me as different than you and not treat me differently. Why can't you see me as a black woman and still see me as your equal? Why can't you see...me? Malcolm X once said "The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman". Even in many of the conversations around racial and gender inequalities, the unique experiences of black women and other women of color are erased, ignored, overlooked, or even dismissed. Our existence is a second hand thought. We are not a part of the conversation unless we are the ones having the conversation. Treating someone like they do not exist is just as bad as treating someone poorly because they exist. Our differences make us who we are. They help to identify us. They help to define us. Acknowledge that. But more importantly, accept that. I am glad Jackie is strong and brave enough to put us into the conversation. And I am glad she is strong and brave enough to wear the target that comes with it. And I am also glad she has the platform to do so. But I know it is going to take more than her to tackle this issue.
So, to all those who say they are for inclusion or are against racism and prejudice, just remember this; If you do not see color, you do not see us.
- Jasmine Shakieer