Approaching Black Women / by Evey Sekajipo

By Micah Reum

We can all share examples of negative interactions we've seen between white people and black people. If you're a white person, you can remember a time when you've said something to a black person that you wish you didn't.  If you're a black person, you can remember a time, or a lot of times, when a white person has said something offensive to you.  It happens all the time.  Many times, the conversation begins on the wrong note simply because of a poor approach.  Alyssa Hughley shares a few examples of how white people have started a conversation off poorly with her.

 

  • When white people address us by saying something like “Hey girl, hey.” We can respond to “Hi, how are you?” You don't have to address us any different than you would anyone else.

  • “Can I touch your hair? It's beautiful!” Thank you for the compliment, but you're still a random person touching my hair. It is not an affirming or comfortable situation for us.

  • “Wasn't your hair just short yesterday?” Yes it looked shorter.. This is a whole conversation in itself.

  • “You're cute for a black women.” I don't know what I'm supposed to say to this. “Um, you're not for a white man…”

  • “Can you swim?” Anytime I'm around water with an ignorant white person..

  • “I'm not a racist because I have a black friend.” If only it was that easy. Also, it doesn't feel great to be the black friend used in that situation.


These are only a few of the many examples in which black women are approached poorly by white people.  When Alyssa speaks about these situations, she can smile and laugh about them because she is comfortable and confident with who she is as a black woman.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that these situations happen almost on the daily for black women.  These approaches and words are hurtful and demeaning, no matter how comfortable or confident a black woman is.