Blindness. It’s a feeling I’ve been struggling with a lot lately.
I am white. I grew up in (mostly white) suburbia. I went to a (mostly white) Christian college. And — though I absolutely interact with people of color in my day-to-day life — the majority of people in my social circles have always been white. (Followed by Asian, East Indian, maybe a few African Americans.) Then I started working part-time in Seattle’s Rainier Valley: one of the most diverse areas in the United States. And I realized just how little I knew or understood about an area that’s pretty much in my own backyard.
The more time I spend in the Rainier Valley, the more I realize that when I look at the world around me … I have blind spots. Huge ones.
Racism is a still such a huge problem in our world today. And just because I haven’t seen it much in my (mostly white) world, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I am blind. To a lot. And the scariest thing about blind spots is knowing there are HUGE things right in front of you that you can’t see.
And you don’t know where they are. Or what they look like. Because they’re blind spots. But you know if you’re not careful–you and your car can end up doing a whole lot of damage. And unintended damage is still damage.
So I keep my ears and eyes open. Because I have so much to learn. I don’t like being ignorant. I don’t like having huge gaps of knowledge. Of not understanding the way the world works. I want to be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes. To walk in their shoes. I’m not there yet. But I’m trying to take steps in that direction.
Many people aren’t. They don’t see what the big deal is.
White America is blind to our own racism. “I don’t really see the problem.” we say. Cool. Good for us. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
No one wants to be told they have blind spots. We’re smart, kind, caring, well-educated people. We can see the world just fine, thank you very much. Don’t get all whiny and try to tell us we have a problem.
But that’s the thing about blind spots. Unless somebody gives you a mirror to see–you don’t realize your own blindness until it’s too late. Damage has already been done.