“I don’t see colour!”
“I don’t care if you are purple!”
These two sentences are frequently used by white people when something they have said offended a black or brown person.
Funny how the colour purple is chosen and the subsequent denial that it doesn’t matter if the black or brown person is purple.
I have never heard white people who use this “colour purple” argument say:” I don’t see myself as white!”
Rather the personalization is removed and immediately the responsibility or “blame” is on the black and brown person to answer in a way that does not offend or alternatively explain to the white person why this is problematic.
Having spent so much time in white spaces I have never come across white people telling each other that they don’t see colour and that the person could be purple. The colour purple is closer to black than white and it is as if white people are taught this from the cradle. You can meet white people from all socio-economic backgrounds and when this conversation arises so does the colour purple. Like an invisible thread tying all white people worldwide they use the colour purple as an example to demonstrate their “colour blind” state. Yet, they must see colour because purple is a colour and is only mentioned in conversation with black and brown people.
So what is this obsession with not caring if black and brown people are purple? Could it be simple deflection and an unwillingness to open dialogue? What is the correct response without appearing antagonistic thereby perpetuating the notion that black and brown people are aggressive and that this aggression forms part of our DNA?
I have decided that the next time I hear a white person mentioning that they don’t care if I am purple that I will respond by saying; ” That’s great because I actually thought you were black when I first met you!” I am grinning to myself as I envision just how this will upset white people.
I won’t give them the opportunity to defend their “whiteness” nor to open discussions as to why I would say that.
What I do see though is white people being offended by “mistakenly” being related to anything black and maybe that’s a great start. Maybe then we can finally replace the “You could be purple,” narrative with a more respectable ” Tell me why you think I am racist and or explain why using purple as a colour you don’t see is a problem.”
It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge our blackness and infinitely more appropriate than equating us to the colour purple.
Purple looks great on unicorns not humans.