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Home » A Case For Color Blindness: Coleman Hughes (Transcript)

A Case For Color Blindness: Coleman Hughes (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Coleman Hughes’ talk titled “A Case For Color Blindness” at TED conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Exercise on Perception

I want to do a quick exercise. Close your eyes. I want you to picture your best friend. Think about what specifically you love about them. What trait makes them them? Now open your eyes. I don’t know what each of you came up with, but I’m pretty sure I know what you didn’t come up with.

I’m pretty sure none of you thought, “What makes Jim Jim is the fact that he’s six-foot-two and a redhead.” I’m guessing you chose their inner qualities, their sense of humor, their generosity, their intelligence, qualities they would have no matter what they looked like. There’s one more quality I’m pretty sure you didn’t choose: their race. Of all the things you could list about somebody, their race is just about the least interesting you can name, right down there with height and hair color.

Sure, race can be a good source material for jokes at a comedy club, but in the real world, a person’s race doesn’t tell you whether they’re kind or selfish, whether their beliefs are right or wrong, whether they’ll become your best friend or your worst enemy.

But over the past ten years, our societies have become more and more fixated on racial identity. We’ve all been invited to reflect on our inner whiteness or inner Blackness, as if these racial essences define who we are. Meanwhile, American society has experienced the greatest crisis in race relations in a generation. Gallup has been asking Americans how they feel about race relations, and this chart is the result.

Rethinking Racial Identity

So, as you can see, between 2001 and 2013, most Americans felt good about race relations. Then both lines take a nosedive. It’s no exaggeration to call this one of the greatest crises of our time. And clearly, we need new ways of thinking about race if we’re going to reverse this trend.

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