“I don’t mean to be racist, but…” No. Just no.
I will be the first to tell you, millennials (myself included) are a generation of people who are more sensitive when it comes to the feelings of others. You can hardly make any kind of joke without “triggering” a 69th wave, pizza-sexual feminist considering all of the different upbringings of young individuals in today’s society.
However, in some instances it is important to be politically correct not only to spare the feelings of those around you but also for your own protection. Social media has become a way for people to actually be fired from jobs for thoughts that were initially meant for small audiences but instead got blown up into something bigger.
Imagine that, losing your career and having your reputation besmirched because you couldn’t keep something stupid to yourself. That just goes to show you being a keyboard warrior for your own pride isn’t worth it.
With that being said, some people’s lack of political correctness is not necessarily their fault. Some of us are products of our environment, and as a result, what we grow up around is all we know.
This, however, should not be an excuse for not attempting to take the time out to learn the right things to say and when to say them.
Racism is not as blatant as it once was, but that does not mean it does not still exist. These days, racism exists in the form of micro-aggressions, which are described by Columbia University professor Derald Sue as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color.”
If that flew over your head, no worries. Here are a few examples to show you the big picture.
As a black person, if I see you speaking to someone with zero types of slang involved but when you speak to me you all of a sudden start throwing in words like “homie,” “yo,” and “dawg” unnecessarily into your sentences because that’s how you see us talk, please don’t. My English is just as fine as my Ebonics, and I’d prefer you speak to me like you regularly would as if I was anyone else.
Have you ever asked a person where they are from and then after they give you a response you ask, “No, where are you actually from?” Well, they just told you and you’re insisting a negation on a fact they just told you because you don’t know how to properly ask about their ethnicity? Way to go.
“Can I touch your hair? It’s so different.” No.
Talking about slavery in a history class and automatically looking at the only black person in the class? No.
“You talk so proper for a ______ person.” No.
“I don’t see you as _______. You’re basically white.” NO.
Look, in some places, people of color are a very small minority and stick out enough already. Some of us just want to be able to fit in without having to worry about being treated different because of what we look like. Stuff like this just makes that process more difficult for us.
Don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying us people of color are asking for special privilege. We know we are different and we are aware you know we are different, but that doesn’t mean you should treat us any differently than you would anyone else. We try our best to understand you don’t mean to be offensive, but with that you have to at least try and meet us halfway. If you know you lack knowledge of a certain subject, don’t be afraid to ask rather than make an assumption and make a fool of yourself.
Life can be a hell of a ride already. The last thing we need to do is put each other through detours. At the end of the road, all we have is each other, so find someone to carpool with for the commute — you’ll need them sooner or later.