CNN's Don Lemon called Starbucks founder and potential independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz "completely out of touch" for saying he doesn't see color. Lemon was flabbergasted at this "so-called colorblind ideology" and wondered what it tells us how Schultz really feels about race.
"Is this the right way to answer a question about racial profiling?" Lemon teased the segment. "A lot of people don't think so. Is Howard Schultz completely out of touch?"
Schultz said at a CNN-hosted town hall Tuesday night, "I didn't see color as a young boy, and I honestly don't see color now."
"Listen, I was getting ready for the show last night and when he said that, I was like, oh, ow, that's going to leave a mark," Lemon said Wednesday. "What is this so-called colorblind ideology? What does it tell us about Howard Schultz and his views on race?"
Lemon said it is not okay to say "I don't see color" in 2019 and likened the thinking to "I don't see gender." The CNN host also offered a better answer for Schultz in the future.
"The fact that you have someone in 2019 who is saying that I don't see color, like who -- again, I don't know who is around him. So Bill Burton certainly is a man of color, but I just wonder why he would think it's okay to say that in 2019 because that's like saying, I don't see gender. I don't see that Mia is a woman. I don't see that Bakari is a man. Of course you see those things. A better answer would be color has never been a defining characteristic for me, either qualifying or non-qualifying in this culture or in society."
CNN's Bakari Sellers, who is black, said by "not seeing color" that "erases my blackness." Sellers also said the comments were "ignorant" because "we want you to see our color" so you can see "the benefit of the diversity we bring to the table." He said a colorblind society would "whitewash" the accomplishments of black people.
"I think it's B.S. when anyone says that they're colorblind or that they don't see race," Sellers said. "I mean the fact is we actually want you to see our blackness. We want you to see our race. We want you to see our color. We want you to see the benefit of the diversity we bring to the table, all of our talents and richness of the culture that we represent."
"We don't want you to whitewash that or eliminate the fact we do bring that to the table," Sellers said. "Second, I think this week or the last ten days have highlighted the fact that you have Howard Schultz who built a billion-dollar company and Ralph Northam who is a pediatrician who ascended to the level of governor, and both of these men due to their privilege have ascended to these very high levels of exceptionalism but are still very, very ignorant especially when it comes to the issue of race."
"I was just going to say I'm very comfortable in my skin. I love who I am. I love what I look like. I love my background," said CNN contributor and former Republican Congresswoman Mia Love.
"Listen, Howard Schultz if you're in front of the TV right now, please take out of your vernacular the simple fact that you do not see race. Why? Because it erases my blackness. I hope that you take a moment while you're serving me a latte to understand that I am a black person who happens to be from the south and I bring some value to the table because of the color of my skin and my heritage," Sellers said.
"I don't know why that's so difficult. But he's made it this far, he's made a billion dollars without having to acknowledge it so maybe I'm doing something wrong," Sellers added.
Sellers later said he is just trying to "educate" people on what it's like to be black in America and called the job "exhausting."
"I think Howard Schultz and this presidential race is becoming a parody of real life," Sellers said. "I'm glad that Congresswoman [Mia] Love and myself and you get an opportunity to talk to the country and laugh about it. But I'll be damned if it's not exhausting," he said of explaining blackness."
"Here are we again trying to just educate people and tell them what it means to be black in America. And so I am going to go home and get rest and hug my twins," he finished.