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. You may find this poem online at other websites, and I'm happy that others appreciate it, but the version here is the latest. It includes minor edits I make now and then as I grow. If you use the poem for any reason, no matter which version, please credit Nordette N. Adams as the author. If you wish to include this poem in a book of any kind or put it to music as some have requested, please contact the author for permission.

Behind the Color Blind
By Nordette N. Adams

You say you see no color.
I see you full of it!
I hope when you look at me
you see black at least a 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,
a favorite hue of mine 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 improve with time.
You say you love 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.
Yes! Until that day in Glory
when we'll be truly one,
let's love ourselves in color,
not pretend that we see none.

Let's consider what it means
to love without condition:
Can't you see all sides of me,
and let love be your decision?
Whether we sit high or we sit low,
can't we love beyond ourselves?
It's a better way to love,
surpassing earthly wealth.
But to claim you see no color,
and smile like that's just fine
is to say you don't see wholely,
and if so, we see you're blind.

© Copyright 2005 Nordette Adams
Minor tweaks, 1/28/2015


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.

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