Kids Describe Color to a Blind Man

December 15, 2017

The world is full of beautiful God-given colors--a just picked red strawberry, the brilliant, crisp yellow of a lightening storm, and of course the myriad of skin colors that bring life to our planet. But what if you were blind and couldn't see any of these amazing shades? That was the premise of a video produced by The Cut.  In it, a group of precocious kids are tasked with describing color to a "totally blind" man named Mack.


At first the kids stumble; they aren't sure what to say. Their confusion makes sense though--we are visual creatures who make assumptions about many things based on how they look (i.e. that woman is wearing glasses and a pencil in her hair...she probably reads a lot and is smart). When the sense of sight is irrelevant, one is left to rely on the other senses of sound, taste, and touch. 


The kids in the video figure this out quickly, and when Mack asks, "what sound do you think blue makes?" One kid says, "low hum." Another says, "wails." And so it goes, the kids describe the colors of the rainbow to Mack in fascinating terms. 


My question: If these kids can so quickly go beyond color to describe color, why can't we? I'm left thinking of the times we stop at surface interactions with people, assuming that what we see is all we need to know. We are all--each and every one of us--more than a color. We're apple pie. We're hot sand and a salty beach. We're campfires and country music. We're spicy. We're loud salsa music. We're bagpipes and itchy wool sweaters. When we are able to use our other senses to experience another person...that's when true understanding occurs.



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