Racial color blindness is the idea that ignoring racial and ethnic differences is the best way to encourage racial harmony. Saying seemingly open-minded words and statements, such as “When I look at my students, I don’t see color,” brings racial color blindness into schools and can cause you to ignore the different cultures and diversity in your classroom. However, students need to learn that society has certain racial and cultural biases, and teaching them in school to ignore those biases is not adequately preparing them for the world after school.

Three Ways to Move Beyond Color Blindness in the Classroom

  1. Don’t ignore obvious examples of race and culture in curriculum materials. If a character in a book is influenced by their culture, make that a part of the discussion. When studying historical events, don’t shy away from the role race has played on those events.
  2. Get to know the cultural backgrounds of your students. Allow for time to share about customs, cultures, and holidays. There is a big fear of offending people, but remember that you as the teacher are not promoting specific cultures and customs—you are only giving students opportunities to share.
  3. Learn about cultural education practices. Publications such as Teaching Tolerance have great articles that will help you embrace the culture of your students and make it a part of your day-to-day teaching in a way that will positively impact your students.

Keep in mind that a color-blind approach can also prevent you from learning to use a student’s culture to deliver more appropriate and authentic instruction in a differentiated classroom. You can find more information about embracing diversity in the classroom in the Inclusive Classroom category of our Insights and Inspirations section. Be sure to also visit our Differentiated Instruction section for a variety of materials you can use in differentiated classrooms.