You do your best to lead by example: show empathy, be kind and don’t judge a book by its cover. But, what if you did see (ok, examine) the cover and used your examination to delve beyond the surface? That’s the exact question three women in D.C. are asking with their new resource, Seeing Color. The website, a compilation of essays on empathy, motherhood, and culture, challenges you to see color and to celebrate it. Find out why Seeing Color is a game-changer in 2017 and how it’ll make you feel slightly uncomfortable—in all the best ways possible.

What’s Seeing Color?
Color is actually an acronym for Celebrates, Open Dialogue, Loves, Offers Hope and Reconciles. Pretty smart, right? The project’s vision is to challenge readers to go beyond the surface or color of one’s skin and to celebrate the differences that make us who we are. The savvy women behind this website aim to create a dialogue that helps the greater community move closer towards social justice, community development and compassion.

So, Let’s Talk About How to Create a Dialogue
What better way to create an open, inclusive conversation around community, culture and color than to invite diverse stories? That’s just what Seeing Color is all about. You’ll find essays about the rich history of DC to social currency to motherhood. You may not agree with all of the perspective—or even be able to relate to them—but we promise you will get a taste of something new that’s thought provoking and sincere.

Don’t Take It From Us
The women behind the website, Autumn, Malisa and Ayren (Ayren also is the brains behind Red Tricycle DC), recently told us about how Seeing Color came to be and what readers can expect in the future. Read on to hear straight from them.

Red Tricycle: Tell us how you three women met
Seeing Color: Being present in the community really brought us together.  Autumn met Malisa at a community cultural kids program, and then met Ayren at church.  Autumn really connected with both these other amazing women who were fellow moms who also had a genuine love for people and commitment to somehow positively impacting the world.  Now we are the three amigos maximizing life by experiencing adventures together and being intentional about creating change.

RT: How did this new project come about? Tell us about the evolution of your idea and why you chose to launch Seeing Color now.
SC: While Ayren and Autumn were at a coffee shop spending some time away from the kiddos in order to work on projects in their hearts, Autumn was side tracked with a vision for the need to inspire conversation on the topic of the differences that make up people in this world.  To choose to celebrate those differences.  Autumn was personally frustrated with the idea that somehow being color blind was ok. Using blog as a platform to communicate a positive message to SEE people, to SEE color and learn to love and celebrate it would help take our culture in a positive direction.

RT: How does your role as a mother shape the direction of Seeing Color?

“Once you become a mother, that role plays a role in everything you do.  Of course as we contemplate important world issues and the role of our faith, and race, and culture, we certainly consider what this means for our children.  It may not play a role in the content we choose to include in the site, but it definitely plays a role in our passion and perspective when it comes to writing on this topic.” —Autumn Swain

“Motherhood shapes my everything—from the things I buy at a store to the way I write. I often try to see things through the eyes of my kids, which works well for Seeing Color because we, in essence, are reinforcing the idea of childlike curiosity. Kids are quick to notice physical differences in people (I.e. “I am brown, but my line buddy is peach”). But they are even quicker to look past the surface differences of a person to focus on more altruistic characteristics like friendship, fears, hobbies, and loyalty. When you acknowledge someone’s exterior, but then make a conscious effort to dig deeper, you get to the heart of a person; it amazes me everyday that kids just naturally get that, while we as adults struggle tremendously with the concept.” —Ayren Jackson-Cannady

“It hard for me to separate being a mother from anything else I do. The experiences I have with people are had through the prism of motherhood, usually with my children present, so the content of my thoughts about my interactions with others often includes children.” —Malisa Payne

RT: What can we expect from Seeing Color in the near future?
SC: Stories from people of all backgrounds that will challenge and inspire.  Contributions from men, women and youth regarding their experiences with “seeing color”.

RT: What do you hope to achieve with your new website?
SC: We hope to ignite new relationships that may otherwise not have been attempted or considered. Our hope is to motivate people to learn more about one another, be excited about engaging, and see real commitment to building unified communities.

We want all people to be able to benefit from reading the content. We want to inspire genuine conversation on the topic. We want to challenge people to consider how we all have limiting views and can benefit from learning from one another. We want people to know that our faith fuels our desire to volunteer our time away from family and other commitments in order to share a message of hope and love for people of different hues, experiences and preferences because it is so important for a more whole and healthy world.

RT: What’s your response to people who disagree with your stance or essays?
SC: Our response is to educate and empower people with information to expand their paradigm.  Understanding other people’s perspectives is very important to having a well-rounded reality.  We would encourage someone in disagreement to talk with someone of a different background and culture and get to know them.  When you know and value people from different backgrounds, you will no longer want to ignore their “color” and culture, but celebrate the uniqueness they have and the positive contribution difference adds to our world.

As Dr Suess says, “Don’t try so hard to fit in if you were born to stand out.”   Encouraging a colorblind society has nothing to do with looking at people equally.  It actually has the opposite affect.  Equality is embracing differences and acknowledges the equal beauty found in those differences.  Ignoring “color” is naturally viewing what someone has to offer as insignificant which does not support equality.

RT: Are you accepting submissions? What if someone wants to contribute?
SC: Yes! We would love to hear people’s stories and thoughts. If interested, people can email us at info@seeingcolor.net

Online: seeingcolor.net

Tell us—what do you think of Seeing Color? What do you find compelling about these stories?

— Erin Lem

photos courtesy of Seeing Color