Color Blindness

Professional Development Topic
I don't think of my students in terms of their race or ethnicity; I am color blind when it comes to my teaching.


When teachers say they are color blind, they are usually saying that they do not discriminate and that they treat all their students equally. Of course, being fair and treating each student with respect are essential to effective teaching. However, race and ethnicity often play important roles in children's identities and contribute to their culture, their behavior, and their beliefs. When race and ethnicity are ignored, teachers miss opportunities to help students connect with what is being taught. Recognizing that a student's race and ethnicity influences their learning allows teachers to be responsive to individual differences. In some cases, ignoring a student's race and ethnicity may undermine a teacher's ability to understand student behavior and student confidence in doing well in a school culture where expectations and communication are unfamiliar. An individual's race and ethnicity are central to her or his sense of self but they are not the whole of personal identity. Moreover, how important an individual's race and ethnicity is to her or his identity will vary and teachers need to take that into account as they seek to learn more about their students.


Questions To Consider

  1. What are some ways for educators to acknowledge students' ethnic, cultural, racial, and linguistic identities?

  2. Why is it important to incorporate their identities into the curriculum?

  3. What happens when teachers don't validate their students' racial and ethnic identities?

To explore these and other questions, take a closer look at the resources below.


Explore the Assets

Race: Are We So Different? is an interactive web site that explores how human variation differs from race, when and why the idea of race was invented, and how race and racism affects everyday life. This site teaches that:

  • Race is a recent human invention
  • Race is about culture, not biology
  • Race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life.

Joyce King explains how White educators can work to understand the role or racial beliefs in the context of American schools.


Coming to Know Students as Individuals

Christine Sleeter explains how multiculturalism supports the struggle against racism.

Lisa Delpit encourages teachers to discover who their students are outside the classroom.

Asian American students describe the challenges of living in two cultures.

A map of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi with overlaid images of key state symbols and of people in community

Learning for Justice in the South

When it comes to investing in racial justice in education, we believe that the South is the best place to start. If you’re an educator, parent or caregiver, or community member living and working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, we’ll mail you a free introductory package of our resources when you join our community and subscribe to our magazine.

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