Friday, June 21, 2013

What we see

I used to think that color blind was the way to approach life.  You know, I only see, name the person, I don't see the color of their skin.  But after years and years of working with people, I find that most folks do note color, and shape, and size, and language, and, well the list is a long one.  There may be the rare bird who truly doesn't notice, but I've never met one of those folks.

Perhaps what folks mean to say is that they notice but that it carries a bit of information, that might tell you a bit about a person, but certainly never ever the whole picture.  Or that how one looks informs some conclusion about how that person might be.  I'm thinking about Marilyn Monroe and her concern about wearing glasses in "How to Marry a Millionaire".  

Works for age, too.  I remember being really happy when I was in my early thirties and being carded.   As a young mother, it made me feel less old.  Growing up there was a more entrenched sense of what one would do; there were ages for a woman, and after a certain point that part of your life was gone.  

In May I went to 18th annual Adelante Mujer Latina Conference.  There were some 1800 young women and their mentors who attended.  The plenary includes some of the most role models one might meet.  In between sessions there are informative booths that can be visited.  Thanks to PCC for supporting this effort and the other conferences that have taken place that have been directed to young men, young African American women, and girls who have an interest in science.  

About the pictures.

Tall girl is a Girl Scout from Highland Park.  Short person is a grad from UCLA.  After offering the short person a form to be a Girl Scout, the short person replied that she was a graduate... from college.  How old do you think she looks?  15.  Short person is 24.

In my brain, I heard "Oh, that is so much better than being carded"and, "No, you look so young!"

 We really do start with a lot of ideas in our heads about folks.  Ni modo.  It's what we do with the ideas that matters most.  Posing for a picture and having a good laugh at our misconceptions isn't bad thing.


  1. It's interesting to consider what elements we take in when we meet a person. A genuine smile, or a grin, that's the first thing that sways me in their favor. A friendly greeting, that's another. The eyes; life in the eyes. If any or all of these are in evidence, then I will definitely notice all the rest -- size, shape, color, age.

  2. I think what you share is the sort of thing many of us notice first. Those things should certainly be the reasons we continue to talk or work with someone. But not everyone looks to the personality first.

    Most of the folks that I have met who share that they are "color blind", don't note the sequence you do. They speak as if they never noticed curly hair, height, complexion, or weight. It is only the personality they see. It's an artificial construct.

    Back when I was involved with anti-bias workshops, those same folks often began to rethink how the met others. Usually they came to a place where they started with the smile and were comfortable to note the other things as well.