Why White People Don’t Understand Racism

ethan renoe


In a recent conversation with a friend of mine from the midwest, he used the phrase “I don’t see color.” I paused and tried to explain that this term, despite his intentions to be kind and non-racist, actually conveyed the opposite.

“Language doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” I told him. “Nothing we say simply means just that. It always carries connotations and reflects larger iterations of how we see the world.”

He pushed back that it’s not an offensive phrase; he wouldn’t treat a white person any differently than a non-white person. The problem with this understanding, however, is that while it dismisses any negative views of people of other colors, it also dismisses the positive interest in their culture, their heritage, experience, and background. It also inherently assumes that their experience must be the same as his, and he has no further interest in learning more about theirs. It…

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