This poem, "Behind the Color Blind" by Nordette N. Adams, was originally posted at in 2005 with an essay on race and racism. It has since become popular with some educators around the world and has been used for anti-racism protests. If you use the poem for any reason, please credit Nordette N. Adams as the author. If you wish to include this poem in a book of any kind, please contact the author for permission.

Behind the Color Blind
By Nordette Adams

You say you see no color.
I say you're full of it!
I hope when you look at me
you see black a little bit,
for when you say you see me
how can that really be
when part of who I am
is my ethnicity?

I like my hair, my skin tone,
I like my heritage;
It influences my art,
enriches how I live.
I like your hair and color
and even your eyes too,
one of my favorite hues is
that lovely shade of blue.

But I wouldn't want to be you,
I like myself just fine,
and don't want you to be me:
We'll both get there in time.
I know you like Scott Joplin,
and I love a Bernstein score,
I love good gumbo and pot pies,
one flavor'd be a bore.

When we escape these bodies,
and meet at heaven's gate,
then we can say "no color":
We'll have nothing to debate.
We'll be at peace in truth,
and understand all things,
but until then let's be real ...
Enjoy what difference brings!
And until that day in glory
when we are truly one,
let's love ourselves in color,
not pretend that we see none.

Consider what it means
to love without condition:
it means to see all sides of me,
then love is your decision.
To sit high or to sit low,
but love beyond yourself
is the best way to love others,
and to reap spiritual wealth.
But to claim you see no color,
and smile like that is fine
is to say you don't see wholely
and if so, we see you're blind.

© Copyright 2005 Nordette Adams


click for MLK page

Nordette Adams wrote the poem "Behind the Color Blind" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and associated political debates during which some people prefaced criticism of the black victims of the storm who were left behind in New Orleans with strange clauses such as "I don't see color, but ..." She posted the poem online on September 29, 2005, one month after the levees broke, and pretty much let it stand as is. As time went on, she was surprised to discover that teachers were assigning the poem to students. Later she edited the poem for clarity's sake, changing the word yet in the last stanza to then, the words lay down low to to sit low, and the word all to that. After some inner-debate, she posted those changes publicly on 12/28/11.

Back to WritingJunkie