Are you searching for examples of racial microaggressions to ensure that you’re not offending your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors? Me too. The world is demanding and deserving of our consideration and it’s time that these die out.
But that can’t happen until we educate ourselves on racial microaggressions. We must acknowledge their offense. Own up to our mistake in using them.
And then make the decision to stop using them once and for all. While educating others along our way.
While informing myself about racial microaggressions I realized that I have spoken a few of these statements in my lifetime. So I created this resource with the hopes of helping others who are willing to learn, grow, and become better.
We’ve got to be better. Our children need to know and do, differently. Let’s do this together by choosing the path forward.
This post contains affiliate links.
What are Racial Microaggressions?
Racial microaggressions are subtle statements and behaviors that unconsciously communicate disparaging messages to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, (BIPOC).
These are messages of discrimination, intentional or not. Making them extremely offensive. Their removal from our vernacular is imperative for unity and peace.
For full clarification of microaggressions, (three types) grab instant access to Microaggressions in Everyday Life. This eBook features the ability to highlight, take notes, and perform a search throughout the book. Additionally, to create digital flashcards instantly.
It’s an incredible resource for experiencing dramatic growth in your journey to better understand how,
Sexism, subtle racism, and heterosexism remain relatively invisible and potentially harmful to the wellbeing, self-esteem, and standard of living of many marginalized groups in society.
This post aims to examine both vocal and behavioral examples of racial microaggressions that we hear (and maybe do) in our everyday life. I encourage you to grab a notepad and answer some of these questions for personal reflection and growth.
Vocal Examples of Racial Microaggressions
While this list certainly isn’t complete, here are some of the most commonplace racial microaggressions BIPOC are verbally subjected to daily.
1. You Don’t Act Black or You Don’t Sound Black
What does acting and sounding Black look like? What does that mean to you? Did you form a mental picture of what that looks and sounds like?
Other variations of this microaggression include statements such as, you’re so articulate and you’re a credit to your race.
These examples of racial microaggressions send the message that Black people are not as commonly intelligent as White people. It’s a long-standing stereotype perpetuated throughout time.
Furthermore, many Black people recognize this generalization. So saying these microaggressions signals an entire belief system and where they stand in your views.
2. I Don’t See Color
Saying you don’t see color, or identifying yourself as color blind is a lie, and therefore it’s extremely offensive. Do you like it when someone insults your intelligence?
Furthermore, if you had to describe them to the police, would you see their color then? People who say these things sound phony and rightly so.
Here are a few infamous statements that white people use to deflect racial issues including the existence of racism today:
- “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
- “I never noticed you were Black.”
- “America is a melting pot.”
- “I don’t believe in race.”
3. Calling People of Color Sister or Brother
Respectively, calling them sis and bro, (sista and brotha) are also a big no. I realize that White guys call each other bro and that it’s not always used racially.
However, it’s not the same as calling a Black man bro when you first meet him because you’re trying to relate. Or, are making assumptions about how that person speaks or interacts based on their skin color.
Obviously, there are BIPOC who have that kinship with their White allies. I’m not contesting that and it’s up to you to understand your friend’s personal boundaries are. I call my husband bro and he calls me bruh.
We are best friends and complete nerds, so that’s what we do. But this is not an invitation to acknowledge all BIPOC as such.
4. I’m Not Racist I Have a Black Friend
An oldie and not so goodie. Having a Black friend, spouse, children, or Black coworker is not your get out of being a racist free card. You can have all of the above and still be racist. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Black people are not a monolith for the entire Black race. Suggesting that because you have a Black friend you’re not racist is implying that you identify this one Black friend as believing for all, and speaking for all Black people.
Ask yourself these questions, (write these answers down and reflect on them)
- Has the Black population been molded into a false narrative in your head?
- What does that image look like? What do you see when you hear the phrase, Black male?
- Does it cause you to identify all Black people in the same regard?
- What influences in your life have helped to shape that narrative?
- Are you willing to let go of them?
I’d invite you to reconsider reading books or listening to podcasts or news broadcasts that have people who conform to and express these examples of racial microaggressions.
5. Denying White Privilege is Real
We must inform our ignorance and embrace what the phrase White privilege means so that we can acknowledge it and move forward.
White Privilege- inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.Oxford
Having White privilege doesn’t mean that you are a racist. It certainly doesn’t negate the hardships in your life. Furthermore, having White privilege does not mean that you don’t struggle. Even on the daily. It simply means, that your life has not been made harder by your skin color.
Parents and caregivers of Black and Biracial children have to have conversations about skin color that parents and caregivers of White children never have to have. That is White privilege.
You can’t help that you have white skin and that your life experience is made easier for it. But you can acknowledge that it’s a truth and move forward with the movement.
6. Expressing A Belief That Mixed Babies, Or Babies of Color Are the Cutest
Having two Biracial daughters, I am constantly stopped by White-women who desire to express this statement to me.
While my own bias agrees that my children are the most beautiful children ever born, stopping me to inform that is a racially charged microaggression.
My interpretation of this statement is that you want me to know that you’re okay with my children being half-Black. But I didn’t ask for or need your approval. I think you mean well but please, stop it.
Additionally, it assists in perpetuating a division within the Black community between light-skinned and dark-skinned People of Color. Causing self-esteem issues in the hearts of our beautiful Black and Biracial youth.
I appreciate what Mirandi Larbi, with MetroUK, has to say,
The way people talk about mixed-race children is borderline sexual. Are babies hot? Are babies attractive? Is it right to talk about infants in such a way?Mirandi Larbi
Why are people obsessed with Biracial babies? I’m not sure but there is no doubt that they are. It’s okay to adore babies and appreciate their features and skin tones.
But feeling the need to stop mothers to comment on how exotic or ethnic or diverse you think their babies look, is not alright. And this should go without saying but this goes for toddlers and grown children too!
7. All Lives Matter
No one is saying that all lives do not matter when they shout Black Lives Matter. Of course, they do. You know that, don’t you?
So it’s foolish to believe that Black Lives Matter is negating that reality. However, Black lives are disproportionately being killed by the police and nothing is changing.
So the purpose of the movement is to acknowledge this police brutality and to stop it from continuing to happen. Here is an online index of Black victims of police brutality.
Please learn and say their names, (and acknowledge this list is not complete). Dig a little deeper into these cases and you’ll see an undeniable trend.
The victim begins to be blamed for their own murder. Additionally, any and everything they can find negative about the victim’s past is drudged up and put out into public viewing.
Admissions of addictions and criminal records surface. Painting them as the monsters they need to be so that society can continue to turn a blind eye to the brutality and corruption that has taken over our police forces nationwide.
Stories grow and spin into turning the victim into the criminal he needs to be to fit the societal narrative that police are here to serve and protect.
It dehumanizes them and glorifies the perpetrators (police) as heroes who got another Black menace off the streets.
It’s frightening. Watching day’s worth of live streams on social media during these beginning stages of this civil rights movement has produced hundreds of videos documenting excessive force and policing inciting violence.
Mapping Police Violence
In 2019, data of all police killings in the country showed a number of alarming realities about police brutality within the Black community,
- Police killed 1,098 people in 2019.
- Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.
- There were only 27 days in 2019 where police did not kill people.
- Black people are nearly 3% more likely to be killed by the police.
- Black people are 1.3% more likely to be unarmed compared to white people.
- Levels of violent crime in US cities do not determine rates of police violence.
- No accountability. 99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime.
This is why we march. This is why we say, Black Lives Matter. It has zero to do with disrespecting or undermining all lives. It’s simply stating the unfortunate truth that black lives are not being recognized and protected the same as White lives.
8. Assuming People of Color Are Immigrants
Asking people questions such as Were you born here? As well as, Where are you from? And especially elaborating No, I mean where are you originally from, your family, and ancestors? These are all insensitive ways to insult the reality that not all Americans are Caucasian born.
The message you’re sending, (intentional or not) is that they are a foreigner in their own country and/or that they are not a true American. Other examples of racial microaggressions include What are you mixed with? And, Are you mixed race?
9. Voicing Your Opinion on How Well Someone Speaks English
Telling someone how well they speak English further alludes to the notion that you’ve categorized groups of people of color as not American born. Other examples of racial microaggressions surrounding language are – Is English your first language? And Will you teach me words in your native tongue?
10. Asking to Call Someone a Nickname Whose Name You Refuse to Learn to Properly Pronounce
Please take the time to learn how to properly pronounce somebody’s name. Making comments about how difficult it is for you to learn a name is obnoxious. But asking to give someone a nickname because of your unwillingness to learn it is rude and insulting.
Behavioral Examples of Racial Microaggressions
So now we know what not to say. Let’s take a look at some abhorrent and insensitive behaviors that we need to stop doing immediately.
11. Touching a Black Person’s Hair
Or even asking to touch a Black person’s hair are both examples of racial microaggressions. It is one thing to be curious but quite another to violate personal boundaries. Furthermore, putting your hands in another person’s hair is abnormal.
Do you do that with White people? Asking a Black person if you can touch their hair is equating them to being animal-like. Touching a Black person’s hair is treating them as if they’re on display for your amusement.
How do you think you would feel if someone walked up and put their hands into your hair suddenly? What would your reaction be? Would you be bothered by people asking to touch your hair all of the time?
12. Clutching Your Purse or Belongings When a Black Male is Near
Clutching onto your belongings when you see a Black male is a racial microaggression that speaks to an unhealthy fear within you. If you find yourself doing this, consider why and what has influenced this behavior.
Have you allowed the media to influence your understanding of Black people? Be it, Hollywood’s never-ending pursuit to glamorize and marginalize them as the criminal element and menaces to our society? Or, by tuning into and obsessing about the news all day. While only absorbing their biased agenda and narratives?
13. Changing Who You Are to Imitate the Race You’re Interacting With
This point correlates with the examples of racial microaggressions involving calling a Black person, a sister, or brother. Adopting a BIPOC’s accent and/or mannerisms as a way of trying to relate to them is insensitive. Additionally, it supports that you’re uncomfortable with being your true version of yourself around them. Why is that?
14. Following a Black, Indigenous, Person of Color Around
Feeling the need to follow a BIPOC around is another trending aggression that is leading to Black people being murdered by civilians in the streets.
If you feel the need to follow a BIPOC around, ask yourself why? What about them makes you uneasy enough to pursue your hunt?
George Zimmerman stalked and hunted a 17-year-old Black kid named Trayvon Martin in 2012. Martin was on a trip with his father visiting his father’s fiancee. He ventured outside of the home to purchase a bag of Skittles.
Zimmerman followed him because he was a Black male that he had deemed suspicious for wearing a hoodie in a gated community. He shot him dead and claimed self-defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.
After he was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, he turned around and sued his grieving family for 100 million dollars. While autographing bags of Skittles for his White Supremacist fans.
There is something seriously sick and wrong about this and anyone okay with it needs to reevaluate their why?
More recently, we watched the brutal hunt and murder of an unarmed Black man named Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery was jogging in his Georgia neighborhood when he was hunted and gunned down by three White Supremacists. One, being a former police officer. The public was uninformed about his murder for months.
15. Calling the Police on Black People for Being Black
I realize how absurd that sounds but it’s a thing. Videos have been surfacing over the years of fragile, White women calling the police on Black people for no other reason than the unnatural fear they have in their hearts about them being Black.
Fearful White Women Calling Police on Black People
Exhibit A — Amy Cooper is seen visibly shaken in a recent video by merely being in the presence of a Black man. In fact, she threatens to call the police and say that an African-American man is threatening her life.
This is the epitome of White privilege. She wouldn’t make that threat unless she understood what that could mean for her victim, Christian Cooper. Fortunately, he was recording and made it out of the park that day.
Watch her work herself into an anxiety-riddled frenzy on her call with 911. Now imagine if some freak accident occurred and the police, judge, and jury only had that 911 call and Cooper’s testimony, (no video) to determine what happened to her. The injustice is real.
Exhibit B — Who could forget Permit Patty and her phone call to the police regarding an eight-year-old girl selling bottles of water to raise money for Disneyland.
Exhibit C — We can’t leave out BBQ Becky and her ridiculous phone call to the police. Overly concerned and dedicated to getting a group of Black people who were barbecuing in the park on a beautiful, sunny day into trouble. Even falsely reporting that they shoved her when video evidence indicates they did not.
While the internet has made these people famous and we collectively laugh (and cry) at how ludicrous these women are. It’s blatantly obvious that they are burdened with unnatural fears and hatred towards Black people.
Where does that fear come from and how do we address that fear? We need to examine why and help educate any of these people that we can along our path forward. These phone calls don’t always produce the same results.
Police Murders of Black, Indigenous, People of Color
Often times, they result in police brutality and even the murder of BIPOC. The video below is the Full Video of the Murder of George Floyd. It’s the traumatizing reality of our current police state and shouldn’t be watched with children. But it should be watched for eyes to be opened. Have yours been?
Officer Derek Chauvin, knelt on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds before he died. Floyd called out for his deceased mama, twice, and the entire world experienced an awakening.
A shift in momentum with the worldwide realization about the truth of police brutality is leading the globe’s largest civil rights movement in history. What side of history will you be on?
Thank you for reading. Could you please share this resource to help encourage and educate your friends, family, and neighbors? Thank you and have a blessed day.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.