You Ignore, I Deplore || Addressing Racial Microagressions
Lys Botsula | @eglaflys
“Where are you from? I mean, where are you from from?”, “Do you speak African?”, “Can
black people get a tan?”, “This is your real hair?”, “Can you show us how to twerk?”.
Harmless questions you may think but no. Those are a few examples of things I’m hearing
constantly as a person of colour. If you don’t see the problem with those questions, you
have a lot to learn about the experience of racialized people. Here’s a little advice: don’t
ever ask those. Black women don’t share one universal identity, stop thinking that because
someone is of African descent it means that they know how to twerk for example. It’s not in
our genes. By asking you’re Othering. Simply, it singles out.
Black women don’t share one universal identity, stop thinking that because someone is of African descent it means that they know how to twerk
I could go on and on about the “dos and don’ts”. The thing is that I feel discouraged
whenever I’m confronted to ignorance or refusal to understand. Racism is a reality that can
occur anywhere. Racism is structural. What I want people to understand is that Black
people’s experiences should not be downplayed or taken for granted. I can’t recall how
many times in my life I had to stand up for myself because someone said something racist
and wouldn’t admit it or would minimize it. Instead of having a conversation about how to
work for racial uplift, you end up being confronted to: “Come on, you don’t know how to
take a joke”, “You’re overreacting”, “People of colour get defensive all the time”, “I’m not
racist, I have a Black friend”, “No need to be so angry”. This kind of behaviour limits your
Moreover, it’s not the role of the oppressed to teach the oppressors how to behave. If you want to be an ally against racism, educate yourself.
Simple as that. As a Black woman, I shouldn’t have to teach people on how to not objectify me. I should be treated as a subject automatically. In order to start on your journey to understand racism, here are some tips:
Don’t touch our hair, whether or not you feel entitled to. Just don’t.
Bear in mind that racism doesn’t represent just one area of oppression, it’s a multifaceted problem.
Stop being surprised if a person of colour is articulate or smart.
Just because a woman is Black, doesn’t mean that she is sexual.
Black women are stereotyped as accessible, don’t internalize that.
Basically, respect us.
Be aware that our society may look progressive but racism is foundational in Canada, it’s in
its DNA. There’s a lot of white-washing when it comes to history and there’s a lot of work to
be done in order to stop inequities. Let’s work collectively and let’s stop being ignorant.