Sosa: We must see color

Columnist Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa calls for skin color acknowledgement. 

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve encountered a version of “I don’t see color,” with the term “color” referring to skin. It can come in a straight format such as a friend stating it or a stranger asking “Why did they have to include race in the title though?” to accusations of “Playing the race card again.” 

I believe that most people are inherently good. There are definitely some bad apples out there, but most of us just want to live a good life. We want our family and friends to be well, to have enough shelter and food and to have a little extra so we can spend time living life in the best way we can. I really believe that. 

I also believe people that make the aforementioned comments mean well. Though these kinds of statements undermine their intentions because by “not seeing color,” we are denying that skin color plays a major role in our society as a whole. What is really being said is, “I don’t see the problem.” 

That’s a problem.

Let’s take a step back and acknowledge that seeing someone’s skin color is not racism. Believing a race is superior to another is. To see the color of my skin is to realize I may or may not have had similar experiences to you. It is to see that there exists a complex individual with a platitude of different components behind the physical appearance. It is the act of giving and making space for someone else’s experience other than your own. It does not detract from you but adds to you, and we realize that we are not that different after all.

When we see color, we see the world is full of it. All kinds, all shades, all types. Everyone has a different experience but we share the same emotions. To see color is to see the injustices done to our fellow human beings. When you start to see color, you see our jails are disproportionately full of black and brown people. When you see color, you see a young black man has to be raised to fear wearing his hoodie up because he may be confused for a thug and killed. A black man cannot watch a football game at his home alone nor can he go out for a run because he will be shot. A black woman can’t read to her eight-year-old nephew in her own house as a cop may just decide to shoot and kill her through a window.

Trayvon Martin, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson. All black lives that were cut too short by systematic racism.

Most of us are outraged and saddened at the same time over the murder of George Floyd. In Minnesota, a black person is 2.46 times more likely to be stopped by the police given their share of the population (rate for stopping white people: 0.48). Floyd had moved to Minnesota for a better life only to die in the middle of a street, under a cop’s knee; uttering the words, “I can’t breathe.” 

No. George can no longer breathe, but we can. 

It’s time we come to terms with the idea that seeing color is necessary if we want things to change. We will never be able to experience what it is like to be something else other than ourselves, but we can harness enough empathy and compassion to know the suffering of others is also our suffering. Showing up for our black brothers and sisters who are tired and exhausted from centuries of being oppressed generation after generation is the least we can do. We cannot right the original sins of this country, but we can right their consequences going forward. 

If you would like to help make the world an equal and better place for those around you, please consider being a part of the movement to make it so. Through educating yourself, you make this change possible (here is why it is so important). Here are some anti-racism resources and some books to read too.

Petitions to sign: 

Text FLOYD to 55156#justiceforfloyd

Text ENOUGH to 55156#justiceforbree

Show up: You can write letters, send emails, make calls or just show up to your local and state representatives. Volunteer for local opportunities. 


Bond Organizations

 Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa, junior in civil engineering.