Sarah Emily R
"You're Hot for a Black Chick" : a Saga on Microaggressions
When I entered the dating scene way back when, the comment "you are hot for a black chick" was one that I heard over a dozen times. I didn't know how to respond and I also didn't really get it. I always would think to myself "uh what is that supposed to even mean?" I just knew that that was a comment that would always make me uncomfy.
I didn't know what that type of comment was even called until a few years ago but, that is a prime example of a microaggression.
According to good ole Google, microaggressions have been defined as brief and common daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental communications, whether intentional or unintentional, that transmit hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to a target person because they belong to a stigmatized group. In short: it's an ignorant comment that shouldn't be said.
When looking back in my life and even still to present day, there are a lot of comments and remarks I have seen that fall into the microagression category.
Have you ever clutched your purse or wallet tightly when walking past a blackman?
Have you locked or double checked to see if your doors were locked when driving through a black neighborhood?
Have you ever told someone who was gay that they weren't GAY gay?
Have you ever said "well you aren't THAT Black?
These are all examples of microagressions.
Where are you actually from?
I am more Black than you.
Wow, you are so articulate.
Oh, you're Black, you should meet my friend (whoever). They are Black too.
Is that your real hair?
I don't see color
These are just some of the microagressions that have been sent my way in life. We need to do better, as a whole. it is 2020, microaggressions are so past the point of needing to be cancelled. Growing up, I didn't know better and I never knew how to respond. I just thought that that was how things were and even though they always made me feel less than and hurt my feelings, I didn't think there wasn't anything I could say about it. I was wrong.
Honestly because a lot of these remarks are seemingly so small, it’s tempting to ignore them especially considering blatant, obvious discrimination is still a real problem, but the buildup of these “everyday slights” does pose negative effects on mental and physical health that cannot be overlooked. When I was in middle school I flat ironed the ever living crap out of my poor curls just because I was tired of being asked about them, people petting me in class (yeah, that was a thing), or being made fun of.
Being able to put a name to these types of remarks makes me feel empowered to stand up for myself. Whenever addressing these types of remarks my intention is never to attack anyone but to approach them in more of an educational manner. For example, if someone asks if this is my real hair or just decides to touch my hair unsolicited, I will typically say "I appreciate your curiosity about my hair but I would prefer you not just come up and touch it." or "This is my real hair. Asking me if it is or isn't kind of offends me. I would much prefer you just ask what types of products I use or how I style it." I will be honest, I still don't address every single microaggression that comes my way because after a while it is exhausting but, I do address the ones that really get to me.
I don't know that microagressions will ever go away completely, but I am sure that we can do better to be more aware of them and to make a conscious effort to think more about what we are actually asking before asking it.
Have you ever experienced microaggressions?