Color Blindness (Feb 06)

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“Everything must change. Nothing stays the same.” This haunting
song by Bernard Ighner has been in my head since last week when
it was sung at the funeral service of my oldest friend. It was
his favorite.

Bob and I have been friends since I was 18 and he was a mature
(?) 21. He was an extraordinary man — full of humor,
generosity, and foibles. He was very imperfect — and quite
perfect. He dismissively laughed at my serious thoughts. He
literally saved my life on more than one occasion. He had
political opinions that provoked me, as they were meant to, and
amused my daughter who would always back him up. We always
fought loudly at Thanksgiving and ended up in stitches. My
family loved him because all of that was out in the open.
Secrets weren’t a part of the deal.

The article that I have linked below, “Color Blind or Just Plain
Blind: The Pernicious Nature of Contemporary Racism” by John
Dovidio and Samuel Gaertner is about keeping secrets — from
ourselves as well as others. The thing about keeping a really
big secret is that many times others actually are acutely aware
of what we think we are hiding. It becomes an embarrassment —
something about which no one can any longer talk straight. So it
is with racism.

This article is based on Dovidio and Gaertner’s fascinating
research about how people who consider themselves liberal have
changed to do racism in a less (they think) identifiable way.
NPQ first published this in 2002 and I am glad to say that our
readers chose it to be included in our “Best of the Nonprofit
Quarterly” issue, just released.

So in memory of my darling friend Big Bob I offer this article
and urge you to read and consider it.

Bob’s last words to me were “I’ll call you, honeee!” I’m