Our Planting Roots volunteer staff members discuss the idea of not seeing color as we continue our discussion on racism in the military community. You can read their backstories here.
Question #2: Many of us have applied the idea of “not seeing color” while living this military life. What recommendations do you have in response?
Voice #1 – April Dingle
My response to not seeing color is why not see color? The reality is that we are different colors and that’s not wrong nor something to turn a blind eye to. I think people are beautiful and selfless when they acknowledge that we are different. Personally, I prefer knowing that I have been accepted and that my differences don’t deter someone from genuinely getting to know me. The phrase “not seeing color” does sting a bit. However, I choose to assume goodwill rather than to hold that statement against someone.
Voice #2 – Claudia Duff
Excellent question, and one I have been struggling with since George Floyd’s murder. My husband and I (we’re both black) worked hard to teach our children to see no color. It worked; both of our boys chose wives who are white. We never even blinked. Our only concern was, “Do these women know Jesus?”
I am still trying to decide if seeing no color is the right answer. Maybe we should absolutely see color, choose to acknowledge the differences, and find ways to connect. I often felt like I was accepted by white people because I was a “different black woman,” seen as the exception to the rule which allowed them to keep their racist views.
I was raised to distrust every white person I met. I was taught that I could never be friends with someone white because hating me, they eventually will turn on me. I was raised with no hope. I even thought heaven would be segregated so I would be more comfortable with my own people.
I struggle to move past wrong thoughts and patterns while I am walking through a world where some white people will always hate me and disregard my presence if able. It’s hard to worship Jesus alongside people you don’t trust. So my husband and I made a conscious choice to change. We eventually realized we couldn’t change, surrendered to God, and he did the work. It was a total script flip for us. All white people are not the same. We just needed to become teachable and faithful in our pursuit. Not seeing color may not be the answer anymore. We need to see color, and then begin to accept and learn one from one another.
Voice #3 – Lisa Redford
I understand what the saying is trying to express but there is no need to be color blind. Our son knew by the time he was three that he was black and that we were white. I am sure our daughter will know before she turns three that she is black. We all see color/race and I want others to see and value my black children’s black skin. I want them to know that their skin color is how God created them–blessed with extra melanin.. I never want someone to be “color blind” because it is not true. I want my children’s color/race to be embraced by them and by others. I do not want to ever tell them I do not see their skin color.
Voice #4 – Kelli Baker
To not see the color of a person’s skin is essentially negating a part of their cultural identity. If you choose to not recognize the color of one’s skin, then you are making a choice to only see the parts of that person that you are most comfortable with rather than that person as a whole.
Voice #5 – Nicole Williams
We have to see color. We have to understand we are different in order to recognize the different paths and nuances to our lifestyles. We have to appreciate people for who they are because God made us all uniquely different. We have to honor that.
The Way Ahead
Planting Roots would like to thank each staff member for sharing about, praying for, and engaging in messy, difficult conversations about race and more. You will read these women’s answers to the following tough questions about racism in the military community. Our prayer is that you would be encouraged to engage in difficult conversations with the women in your circle of influence and prepared to share the hope we have in Jesus.
The U.S. military is viewed as being rather integrated racially today. What has been your experience pertaining to racial integration in the U.S. military?
How do we encourage diversity within our community of Christian military women?
Share a story that breaks your heart.
Share a story that gives you hope and/or points to Jesus.