In two separate contexts in the last week I have heard Christian leaders say that they are “colour blind”, by which they mean that when they look at someone they do not see their colour, or their background, they just see a person. I understand what they are saying, but are they right? Is this a helpful way of thinking and talking? I know it is potentially controversial, but I have concluded that we shouldn’t be colour blind and in fact it is only white people who would even suggest it!
The reason I think it is unhelpful is that it assumes that we are all equal, which is not the case. In the eyes of God all are equal, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3v28 but is not yet a lived out reality in our world, or even in our churches.
It ignores the fact that our society is rigged to give some people advantages over others. This is not just associated with colour, there are issues associated with “class” and wealth, and gender. We are not all equal, and not recognising this is unhelpful, especially when it comes from those who have all the advantages. As Paul also says we should remember the poor. Galatians 2v20
Reni Eddo-Lodge says,
Not seeing race does little to deconstruct racist structures or materially improve the conditions which people of colour are subject to daily. In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon – earned or not – because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.
This video powerfully demonstrates the truth about privilege, it is only short and worth watching.
There are all sorts of statistics, which I will not bore you with, that demonstrate the advantages that white men from a middle-class background have compared to others. i.e. people like me! I think that Jesus and the Bible challenges those who come from privileged backgrounds to acknowledge that and seek to uphold the cause of those who are less privileged.
We need to speak more about “white privilege” more than being colour-blind! I did so at a conference I spoke at recently and the shock I had was that some in the audience, people of colour, were astounded that I would do so as a white man, they had never heard a white person acknowledge that before.
Written by Tony Thompson