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WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Westminster Presbyterian: The problem with being 'colorblind'

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One of my favorite movies tells the story of a young girl whose world transitions from being one of black and white to a world of bright, brilliant colors. The world our main character finds herself in is a stark contrast to the reality of her world.

You might have guessed that the movie I am referring to is "The Wizard of Oz." Imagine how different this movie would be if it were filmed entirely in black and white: completely devoid of the bold, vivid colors. There would be no yellow brick road, no green-faced wicked witch and no ruby red slippers. It would be like watching "The Wizard of Oz" on an old black-and-white television.

In the book of Genesis, we are told God created humanity in God’s image. Each one of us bears the image of our creator, from the one whose skin is as white as the purest snow to the one whose skin is as dark as a moonless night. God designed God’s people to inhabit God’s image in a cornucopia of color. How different the world would look if God had chosen to create humanity as being homogenous: one color, one hue, one shade. I hazard to ask what color people believe God would have chosen if God had decided to limit Godself to just one color of skin tone. Whose skin tone would it be?

This brings me to a question that weighs heavily on my mind, and to the point of this article: “What is the purpose of being colorblind, and whom does it benefit?”

Created in the image of God, I am a Black woman with brown skin, and kinky black hair. I have been told by well-meaning friends and associates that they do not see color when they look at me. Although I understand the sentiment of colorblindness, I cannot help but wonder what would happen if you opened your eyes and suddenly saw me in all of my blackness. If you saw me and recognized me to be a Black woman, would that change how you perceive me? If we turned to our Muslim neighbor, or our Asian neighbor, and embraced their created image in their fullness, would we perceive them differently? Can we only accept “the other” if we strip away parts of their identity, making them more like ourselves? Some people may wonder, “Shouldn’t we focus on the things that make us similar instead of the things that divide and separate us?” My response is simple. People are not attacked, marginalized or oppressed because of what makes us similar, but because of what makes people consider others to be “the other.” People who target Black and brown people are not colorblind, therefore our allies cannot be either.

Christians accept the premise that God created people to be the image-bearers of God. We hold the belief that we see “the face” of God when we look at our neighbor. If we are to accept the premise of the Imago Dei, then we must accept that God created God’s image in different colors, hues and shades. I believe the concept of colorblindness goes against who God created God’s image to be. We are not created without different skin tones, so why must we pretend that these differences don’t exist to fully embrace each other? Nobody wants to live in a world where "The Wizard of Oz" can only be watched in black and white, so why would anybody want to embrace a world where the colors of the world blend into one monotone?

Shavonn Lynch is an ordained elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Born and raised in Auburn, she graduated from Northeastern Seminary in May 2020 and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry degree from Northeastern Seminary. For more information, visit westminsterauburn.org.

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