All my life I had comments about my hair, very often, a simple comparison to the person who’s talking hair. I am black and stopped perming my hair more than 10 years ago. It is a choice, I refuse to torture my hair for a beauty norm I don’t agree with. My hair is very thick, bulky, dense and dry. The worst is from my family, almost every time I see them: “How do you comb your hair? Do you ever comb it? See how the comb can go through my hair? So what are you going to do with your hair? You know what you should do? etc…” They almost touch it every time. One day, a group of cousins even gave me an “intervention.” My white roommate and her boyfriend asked me if my hair ever grows (I have shoulder length hair).
Last week, I graduated from my university with honours. First thing my relatives ask me after congratulating me on my graduation? “When are you getting married?”
Yes, because for a woman, marriage is the next logical step after getting a bachelors degree. No one asked me about my career ambitions, because, as my dad says “You’re a woman, it’s not like you’ll get far anyways.”
I have very thick & curly hair that I straighten when I need a trim. Because it goes past my shoulders, I always get a few people who either shove their hands in my hair or touch my hair (without my permission) while asking me if that’s all mine or a weave….like black people can’t have “nice hair.”
They look bewildered at the annoyed look on my face or if I lean away….I mean I don’t know if their hands are clean. Makes me feel between annoyed and pissed.
“You’re too smart for your own good.”—My neighbor in response to me, the only woman in the group, talking politics with my other men neighbors. He didn’t seem to feel this way about the men in the group.
“Well, it’s only because she has that Hispanic last name (Martinez). You know, they are always looking for minorities.”—My neighbor, when finding out I (and not her son) was awarded a very prestigious and large scholarship to pay for my undergraduate education and study abroad. I worked extremely hard to get this scholarship all throughout high school.
I have older half-brothers. Every time they introduce me to any of their friends they seem shocked to see that I’m not as dark as them. "Wow. Are you adopted? You look so different! And you guys are related?" Yup we came out of the same place. Made me annoyed.
“Before we met when I first saw your name I thought you were going to be one of those quiet Asians-you know? And my mom was like ‘well maybe she’ll just spend all her time in the library so you’ll have the room to yourself! I’m so glad you’re not like that!”—My roommate, laughing. Early into my freshman year of college, who at that point I had become close friends with. She told me as though she were relieved. I was offended.
A little while ago, my boyfriend and I got engaged and changed our status on Facebook. Suddenly, all my Facebook ads advertise “Perfect Wedding Venues!” “Bridal Fair This Weekend!” and “Which Wedding Flowers Should You Choose?” “Lose Weight for Your Wedding!” All of his Facebook ads after the relationship status change? Football, power tools, and Coca-Cola. Absolutely no wedding-related ads for him.
Every time I go into a music store, the workers (almost always a man) point me to the pink sparkly guitars, asking “don’t you like this one?” They’re shocked when I actually know what I’m talking about. I’ve been playing guitar since I was five.
Last year I was explaining to my roommate's friend my family background; I'm Congolese but because my dad worked for an international organization we traveled a lot. After hearing him being surprised at how good my English was, I made the mistake of telling him that my dad grew up in a village and then went to college in the city.
Him:So he's from a village?
Me:Yea that's right.
Him:So did he take your mom out of the village? Like did he teach her about civilization and languages?
Me:...No...My mom is from the city and went to college in Canada with a full ride. They met while working.
Him:Oh My bad. Since you said "village" I just assumed.
I was about to lose my shit - he said it so casually and although my roommate was pointing out his ignorance/racism, he didn't seem to find anything wrong with what he just said.
I’m a Dominican female that people confuse as a “white American” woman. At job interviews, I tell them where I’m from, born and raised in the Dominican Republic, they say “Oooh” with a tone of disappointment. Makes me feel like I was better when I was considered a “white american” woman. At interviews for employment. Makes me angry and frustrated.
Here I am, sitting in my cubicle, silently typing to myself. I have this really loud co-worker, with whom I have spoken frequently. We even take classes together (we’re both in Graduate school). He stops right in front of my computer and announces, or rather asks, “So what are you bi-racial or something?"
I mean, it was so loud. I said, “Yeah. Yeah, you got. Did you need anything?”And he just strolled away.
“Maybe you should consider [a completely different career path].”—My workplace, after I requested disability accommodations. Because clearly, cripples should stay in our economically-disadvantaged space so everyone else feels comfortable and doesn’t have to accommodate us, regardless of whether we busted our butts to get a PhD and be professionally successful. Made me feel like professional success isn’t an option if you’re disabled.
Back in High School, my English teacher asked us to choose a Jane Austen book to write a report on. A new bookstore had just opened up near my house so I went in to buy one. I approached an assistant and asked him where I could find Pride and Prejudice to which he replied, “Oh, I don’t know. I think that may be in the ‘black interest’ section.” I was livid.
Stranger:You're way too young to be a professor. You look like a student.
I'm in my 30s and I dress more professionally than my colleagues. But I'm also petite and female. My male partner, who has the same age and occupation, is never told that he doesn't look like a professor. It sends me the message that I'm an imposter, merely play-acting at being a serious scholar or authority figure. Made me feel like no one will take me seriously despite my accomplishments.
In 1991, a US military helicopter piloted by Major Rhonda Cornum crashed in Iraq. She and the surviving members of the (male) crew were being held as prisoners of war. We were discussing this event in my High School Social Studies class when my teacher said “She [Maj. Cornum] probably won’t be worth much when they get her back.”
He said this as if a woman’s “worth” could be erased or diminished by by having been sexually assaulted. As if a man would be brave and stoic upon return from captivity and torture, but a woman would be somehow ruined, worthless.
I was standing in the cafeteria of a major academic medical center wearing shirt, tie, and the same white coat that all my medical school classmates wear (with stethoscope). An older white lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Excuse me do you work here? I’m trying to find the soups…” and even once I fully turned around it never occurred to her that I am medical student, not a cook. I am a black male medical student in a major Northeast academic medical center.
A coworker sent me a music video to to indicate how cool and knowledgeable he is about music and culture. He’s back after several years working independently, so he’s trying to familiarize himself with the many new people (including myself) now working here. He thought it would appeal to me because the video is filmed in India. While part of the larger Indian diaspora, I’m not Indian. I’ve explained this. Before he sent me this video, I’ve explicitly said I don’t identify as Indian, so he’s just being willfully ignorant. Made me feel awkward and angry.
In the UK primary school (4-11 year olds) I went to, there were only two little Black girls. One of them came to me crying at playtime one day, saying the other kids wouldn’t play with her because she was brown. The other girl I found crying in the toilets once because another child had called her the n-word.
While watching Oprah on TV being interviewed, my mom (who has short permed hair) says, “Oprah looks good with big natural hair because she has a larger build.” She knows I am currently growing out my short natural hair, and have worn a variety natural styles in the past. I didn’t know I needed to be a certain size to look good with a particular natural hair style. Made me feel angry, sad, disturbed, disappointed.
“What do you mean you don’t like Takis (Mexican chip-like snack)?! It’s like being Mexican and not liking beans!”—A Spanish Language and Latin American Culture major to me. I am indeed of Mexican descent. And I also don’t like beans.” Made me feel stereotyped beyond all reason.
I’m sure that something similar has been posted before but comments that point out how quiet I am (“you should speak up/talk more/stop being so quiet!”) make me feel worse about myself and doesn’t help my crippling social anxiety/mental health issues at all.
"But according to Durkheim’s theories, won’t gay teens kill themselves more once society becomes more accepting of gays? ‘Cause like, right now, they have their niche as being different, and once they’re the same as heterosexuals they’ll just be normal."
Said by a student in my Sociology class when we were discussing suicide. Aside from being completely illogical, I was deeply offended as I am bisexual and trans* and have attempted suicide in the past because of the social shame and stigma around being queer. It made me feel like I am supposed to be glad that I am discriminated against and marginalized to the point of being suicidal because people who have never experienced my oppression tell me “different” is a good thing.
“But even you would agree that it’s not medically necessary in the same way as someone who is dying of something.”—
Said to me by a straight, cis, male friend when I was explaining why it will be years before I can have SRS (sex reassignment surgeries). I am a trans* man who has attempted suicide in the past because of my gender dysphoria.
Made me feel misunderstood and diminished, like the severity and potentially life-threatening nature of being denied trans* related medical care was not seen as real or legitimate, and like I am not allowed to define my experience for myself but must accept whatever people who have more privilege than me define my experience.
We were talking about the cross-race effect in my eyewitness class (the cross-race effect is the finding that it’s difficult for people to accurately identify members of another race, compared to same-race identifications). Someone asked about whether, if we standardized skin tone, if we would still see the cross-race effect. The professor then talked about bleaching pictures of faces to standardize skin tones. Why should white be the default?
My (straight) roommate often plays an online game on Skype with his friends. This afternoon, he teased one of his (also straight) friends about “coming out of the closet.” Made me feel uncomfortable, like my sexuality and my experiences as a queer person are a joke.
“If there’s a room/building for LGBTQ on campus why isn’t there one for straight people? Isn’t that what equality is all about?”—This was one of the “confessions” on my university’s confession Facebook page. It’s not uncommon for “confessions” like these to appear on the page and they get many likes.
Coworker:[Boss' name]'s wallet totally got raped by that bar's prices.
Me:Okay, but could we not make rape jokes at work?
Coworker:[laughing] I wasn't joking, it literally got raped."
Conversation between a coworker and I in a work setting. This is not the first time something like this has happened.
Made me feel like even in a professional environment people think their right to joke about sexual assault is more important than someone else's right to feel safe. Like I was asking too much by wanting that subject to stay out of our store.
Two classmates were talking about “the only guy in class,” in referencing the other guy in class. I said, “hey man…” they glanced at me, and then continued talking. None of my peers have noticed that my male name comes with male pronouns. Nobody’s training them to ask for pronouns. We’re in college, and they don’t know that people like me exist. Made me feel erased, frustrated.
I was walking through a large city late at night with a group of people, one of whom was a white girl I had just met. Every time we walked past a Black person, she had a disparaging comment to make. The Black women were all hookers, the Black men were all drug users, the sleeping homeless people were disgusting, etc. I was the only Black person in the group and felt like she was also judging me.
I’m laying down on the couch next to my mom. I am a light skinned Puerto Rican and my mom is tan. Her friend (Puerto Rican) just had a baby with a black man and she send my mom a picture of her new baby. Among seeing the picture, my mom smiles and responds to the text “she’s beautiful, thank god she didn’t come out black lmaoo.”
Occasionally, when people at my engineering job find out I have kids, they tell me “Wow, you look so young!” As if teen pregnancy doesn’t happen to middle-class people. As if teen mothers do not get college educations and careers. I’m ashamed that my usual response is “Thanks?
“What? You’re not Mexican. You look Filipino. Trust me — I know what Filipinos look like.”—
- my white friend.
Oh, an expert, I see. So we’re all just some commodity that needs to fit a set of criteria before you deem us worthy of our own culture? And I need YOU to tell me what culture I am? This makes me feel like I can’t be friends with white people (which I know isn’t true).
“If everybody would just stop making everything about race, you would realize everything is actually ok.”—
Said by my white, 20-something friend and co-worker.
I HATE this statement. How I think/feel/act is defined partially by my culture. Telling me to ignore my race is like telling me not to exist. Why must it be my responsibility to fix the world according to how she sees fit? I would say something to her, but I hesitate because I don’t think I need to be my white friends’ “minority educator.” I struggle with having this difference of opinion while trying to maintain a friendship.
One of my (white) classmates told me that the reason my (black) thesis advisor loved my project about mixed-race representation in visual culture was because my advisor was “obsessed with black people.”
I (woman) was buying a filter for my turtle aquarium and the guy working in the store kept directing his advice/comments/questions to my (man) partner rather than me. My partner even said “it’s her turtle, ask her” but he kept ignoring me and speaking to my partner instead. The sad part being that I barely even noticed until my partner commented on how upset he was about it in the car afterwards.
English is not my first language, but according to my ESL teachers I am ready to take university course; thus, I am taking one university class. During class, the professor alwas remarks how he does not expect much from me because English is not my native tongue. I know I do not speak perfect English, but I am very motivated and he just puts me down with his: “Oh, awesome you know this word” (a very basic one)
It makes me feel I will never be good enough in the U.S
Every time someone, in response to an obnoxiously loud car, says “he’s compensating for a small penis” and laughs and expects the same response.
Shame that I’ve said it thoughtlessly before. Sadness that no one called me out on it and I only figured it out during self-reflection about ways in which I might be part of the problem. Deep sadness that body shaming of men is tacitly accepted in many of the more “liberal” circles I move in. Regret, for not realizing it sooner. Resolve, to try to be more vigilant about my own words and actions.
I had just had several cysts removed from my groin area (due to long bike rides in denim). During the second follow-up from the surgery, the doctor sat me down and asked me if I had any intentions of having children in the near future. I responded “no” and he informed me that if I wanted to be a healthy woman (“to not get cancer”), and contribute to society, I must have children immediately.
Last week, my friend and I were downtown waiting at a crosswalk when she accidentally bumped into an older white male. My friend goes, “excuse me” to which the man replied, “Oh that’s alright, honey, as long as you don’t try to pickpocket me.” We were both confused at his statement, and I didn’t want her to brush it off as nothing. I think microaggressions sugarcoated with humor, such as this, towards black POC are noticeably offensive and not funny at all.