Okay, so recently I started following a blog I came across called "Ask a Korean". It's a great little blog written from the perspective of a Korean American guy and covers everything from Korean culture to little random posts. Well, today I came across a post on AAK's blog called "Open letter to non Asian-American People" which was basically a listing of how not to make an ass out of yourself when approaching and interacting with Asian Americans.
I love this blog...but with this post, I think it would honestly apply to any group of people. It reminded me of the number of times I've experienced that "did this joker really say this retarded crap to me and think that they're cute?!" moment. So, I decided to compile a personal list of things I've experienced as an African American woman that might help some non-black people learn how to better interact with their peers! And this is just for fun...so please don't write me a 20 page dissertation on how what I said was offensive. The Internet is free...start your own blog and type away if you don't like what's in this list.
Nothing is more obnoxious than people saying things like:
1. "You speak so clearly!" No, not all of us sound like Lil Wayne, and the underlying implication that you didn't think smart AA's existed until you met me is extremely insulting. I went to an Ivy League school, why would I sound like Lil Wayne.
2. Trying to talk to me in a hood slang accent. I should let you know I grew up in one of the whitest neighborhoods in Indianapolis...in fact, I'm probably more preppy or suburban than you, so please stop trying to relate to me under the assumption that every black person grew up in "tha hood". Unless you're Eminem, or someone who truly grew up in "tha hood"...talk normal.
3. Giving me the look of shock if I tell you I got a sunburn at the beach. Contrary to popular belief, a higher percentage of melanin in your skin isn't a guarantee that you won't get burned.
4. "You're so pretty, are you mixed or something?" Now in fairness, yes I have a lot, and I do mean A LOT going on in my family tree. But whether you meant to or not (and most of the time I'm sure people don't when they say this to me) you're also implying that by default, if I'm "just black" that I wouldn't be pretty. Unfortunately, that plays to a huge cultural thing in the AA community about skin color and its equivalence with beauty - you don't want to go there with a black person. It's a foot in mouth thing...just say I'm pretty, and if I choose to give you the break down on my family tree then so be it.
5. "You look just like that one actress/singer/chick down the street." Much like #4, I'm sure you're not implying it, but seriously, we don't all look alike. I don't look like Janet Jackson from Good Times, and just because I sometimes go blonde doesn't make me Beyonce either.
6. "I know you can show us how to dance!" Said to me at a frat party in college...actually I've seen some pretty rhythm-less black people...so once again...don't let the stereotype get your head twisted. Although yes, I can dance! ^_^
7. "I know all about black women and their hair." Sorry, just because you watched Chris Rock's movie "Good Hair" doesn't mean you know jack about black women and their hair and the cultural significance it plays in our society. You watched a movie...that's it...don't let it go to your head.
8. "Can I touch your hair?!" No jackass, you can't. Just for reference...asking to touch anything on anyone who you don't really know is much like non-verbally saying "I look at you as if you're something strange and odd...so I must inspect it". Inspect from afar...and silently.
9. "My neighbor/mailman/person-down-the-block-who-I-don't-really-know is black". This is cringe-worthy. Please, I totally get it that a lot of people don't actually spend a lot of time around people of color just because of the composition of their town. But saying this, makes you seem really out of touch.
10. "You must get mad when you see a black man with a white woman" Ummm actually no...I have been happily in an interracial relationship with a Puerto Rican man for the last 5 years. So, why would I be worrying about what some random man who I don't know is doing or who he's dating. Don't let the 1990's urban "African American themed" movies get to your head...I don't care what the next man is doing as long as he's doing it for love and not for "status" or to fill a fetish.
11. Speaking of fetishes...don't assume that all AA women are freaks or like the video chicks on late night BET & will welcome advances from anything male...I know some serious prudes out there. And it's insulting to have men come up to you trying to be wayyy too familiar. Unless you want me to mace you...keep your thoughts to yourself.
12. "Why do black people do (insert subject here)?" How the hell would I know?! I'm one black woman...I do not speak for all black people around the world. I don't ask you to rep your race/ethnicity...please don't ask me to quantify an entire group of people.
13. "Are you an 'angry black woman'?" Seriously?! AA women are in a "damned if we do damned if we don't" position wayyyy too many times. I'm not an angry black woman but this question tries my patience...just because you've watched "Diary of a Mad Black Woman", "Waiting to Exhale" or any other "AA oriented female empowerment movie" doesn't make you an expert on black women and our love/hate relationship in our overall community. I would have to say, no, I'm not an angry black woman...but this question makes me want to slap you.
14. "You must be great at sports" I'm not Venus or Serena or Sheryl Swoops. In fact, I was happy to get a C in gym class. Please don't assume things.
15. Fried chicken, watermelon & chitlins. Okay yes I like fried chicken, but who doesn't? (besides a vegetarian!) Watermelon? Not a fan of the consistency....and the thought of eating pig intestines is too gross for words.
16. The assumption that all black people (African, W. Indian, AA's, black Brits, etc.) are all the same. FAIL FAIL FAIL...it's a night and day kind of thing. The only thing we share is melanin and a shared general ancestry...please don't lump us all in the same category. Some people take HUGE offense to this...much like saying a Mexican is the same as a PRican as a Dominican as a Spaniard...I've seen people get into huge arguments over being lumped into the same ethnicity...don't go there!
Okay...so those are my pet peeves...anyone else experienced anything like this? Doesn't have to be just black people...share your comments and again, this was all in fun so please don't send me hate mail over this! ^_^
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6 years ago
I am an AA woman too and I enjoyed reading this - I've experienced many (but not all) of the listed points and it was validating to see them all in one place. I found it quite relatable. Thanks for sharing.
Well, I have experienced similar point....
I live in small country named Lithuania..... 20 years before it was occupied by Soviet Union,,,,and geez, when someone asks where I'm from and I answer they will definitely say that it is located in Russia or Africa....
it pisses me off
great post some of the most annoying things people have said to me as a black woman:
1. Do you like basketball?
2. Do you like rap music?
3. Staring at me when I dance
4. You should watch that movie "Good hair"
5. You sound white
6. Random non blacks approaching me to complain about affirmative action and imply that I am a beneficiary
7. Can I touch your hair?
8. You are so lucky you are tan all year long
9. People assuming I live in dangerous neighborhood
LOVEEE THIS!!! This is soo true. I get this all the time too. especially the 'you speak so well' and the 'i know YOU can teach us how to dance'. Ugh lol.
Yeah the "you speak so well" one and the "are you mixed with something" really try my patience. I get that depending on where in the city I am people will automatically assume I must be a certain ethnicity because of who typically lives there (i.e. if I go to Washington Heights ppl automatically assume I'm Dominican)...but it irks me just the same. And yeah..."you speak so well" is the most backhanded of compliments...unless it's coming from someone who's a native speaker of Spanish or Korean and their commenting on my skills when I'm speaking to them in that language!
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