White, Black, and All the Things In Between

When we use colour for identification, rather than division or discrimination, are we still perpetuating racism?

I just had a thought, while talking to my supervisor this morning. It’s probably something that I have mulled over before, without coming to a concrete conclusion; quite similar to the outcome I just had.

My supervisor simply told me, “the white lady with glasses downstairs”, in response to my question of “Who is [Person’s Name]?”. As you can rightfully assume, there was nothing negative in her statement; no hidden connotations. It was a normal answer to identify the person of interest in our conversation.

Yet, for some reason, I began to think about what you are currently reading as I was walking down the stairs to go and see this person. It also occurred to me that I have never, in person, ┬áheard a caucasian refer to a dark skinned person as, “the black guy” [perhaps I am singular in this phenomenon]. But this is not, to separate them from this enquiry. It is merely to indicate that I am not totally sure how I would feel being referred to as “the black guy with [insert description]”.

When there are so many points of description, why is it that we so naturally use colour as one? In times when there is no malicious intent, the answer to that may simply be that it is easy. And on the surface, it seems absolutely harmless. But is there something deeper to it? Does it indirectly, and even subconsciously, perpetuate racial division through the intention of identification, or does merely highlight what appears to be our biggest physical difference? And if it does, is there really a problem with it?

Just wanted to share some food for thought this morning with you all. Let me know what you think. Is it okay? Or is it not okay?