According to science we don't all see colors the same way. What I call "Cardinal Red" you very likely see as something else on my color wheel. But experience and expediency leads us to agree that the color we see whenever a cardinal flits by is red, even if each of us is in fact seeing a different hue. As abstract as color can be, our perception of it is incredibly concrete. Since we've been old enough to point at cardinals, we've only been able to see them one way because "color," as one scientist put it, "is a private sensation."
Until it isn't.
That's because colors are also socially constructed. Our brain gathers the evidence it receives from our rods and cones and filters it through the lens of our learned, and often shared experience, or "schema". "Red" is a label created by one human that fell into usage because he or she was able to convince other humans to accept it as a descriptor for things like blood, apples, and cardinals. Someone pointed at a bird, said "red" and it trended on prehistoric Twitter, and that carried on through the ages to the point where identifying color is one of the first leaps of faith we make. As children, we name our colors the way we might name saints: by rote, sight, and for the approval of those judging our development and growth.
So my red is your red, even if objectively we're actually seeing different colors, out of an expediency born of a time when knowing the colors of certain berries meant knowing which ones were good to eat and which ones were poison. We classified, coded; and, because it could be a matter of life and death, collectively agreed to give what our eyes saw a common name. But every so often colors become contentious, and not because of our eyes, but because of our baggage. Trying to decide what color to paint the living room can lead some relationships to ruin. Red and blue have become shorthand for who believes what in America, and who is more or less American as a result. Black and white are loaded with meaning that has consequences beyond their places on or off the color wheel, as this clip from Spike Lee's Malcolm X illustrates:
That seeing red -- in every sense of the phrase -- is rooted in faith more than fact has never been more evident during the Rorschach Test that is 2020. Trump, Biden, Coronavirus, masks, Coke, Pepsi... Each word can draw dramatically different responses depending on the individual beliefs of the person reading those collectively defined words. You stand on what you "know" to be "true" even if truth and knowledge are moving targets.
"YOU BETTER BELIEVE!!!" - DECLAN MCKENNA