The Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission held a meeting at Mountain View Elementary, a local elementary school in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City. Upon my arrival, I found a diverse group of individuals who had come for a discussion or dialogue on racial equality discussing equal opportunity and race.
A definition might be helpful on what color blindness actually is. Well, has anyone ever heard someone say, “I don’t see color, all people are the same,” or something like that? This is precisely what we call color blindness. It is an arbitrary ignorance to cultural differences and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s like picking an apple and an orange from the lunch line and saying, “I see no difference whatsoever.”
This type of thinking can be quite dangerous. Not recognizing that people from around the world, who call the United States, Utah, and even Salt Lake City home, are a melting of nationalities, implies that every one in our community has “equal rights,” when that is not actually true.
When I attended the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission, I found a variety of individuals from different cultures who wanted a dialogue about this color blindness issue. There were people from Mexico, including a professor at the University of Utah, Hawaii, a Native American of the Navajo tribe and Caucasians as well.
Cultural difference can and should enrich our cities and towns, but clearly the richness of diversity doesn’t always follow this unwritten courtesy. For example, a Caucasian running for governor will most definitely will be entitled to privileges that a Hispanic man or woman would not have access to.
Often times the success of one racially diverse person may stifle the chances of another person of that race or culture. This arm of color blindness describes that if one person of a minority group is affluent or predominantly influential, then all people of that race have the equal opportunity and resources to accomplish such goals. This is not true. It is blind to think that differences in a minority group have generic similarities and that all are equal in their abilities and strengths is absurd.
Pam Perlich, Senior Research Economist at the University of Utah recently quoted the importance of diversity and how immigrants enrich our communities with their native cultures and customs.
“The literature is very definitive that immigrants increase production, increase productivity, increase creativity, and in this case because people are coming from so many different source regions, increasing the social, cultural and linguistic diversity in our community and enriching us in many other ways beyond just economic,” Perlich explained.
There are distinct differences within a single culture that can limit or enhance the success of its persons. Social color blindness is a problem few are aware but that all people need to know.