Many non-racist people like to call themselves “color blind,” as in “blind to the color of someone’s skin.” But what about people who are actually blind? Does removing the ability to identify a person’s race on sight remove the ability to define others by their race? The answer is no. And now we have research to prove it.
Researcher and lawyer Osagie K. Obasogie has looked at this question for years. In 2010, he published a paper on whether or not blind people are capable of seeing race. He writes:
I not only ﬁnd that blind people have as signiﬁcant an understanding of race as anyone else and that they understand race visually, but that this visual understanding of race stems from interpersonal and institutional socializations that profoundly shape their racial perceptions. These ﬁndings highlight how race and racial thinking are encoded into individuals through iterative social practices that train people to think a certain way about the world around them. In short, these practices are so strong that even blind people, in a conceptual sense, ‘‘see’’ race