You might not have thought that asking your black coworker how she "grew her hair like that" or to explain why Katy Perry's apology wasn't good enough was taxing, but in reality, it is. You might even think the fact that I just pointed that out is "divisive." However, it's just as challenging to be on the receiving end of that conversation as it is for someone who isn't of color asking. It isn't exactly the question even if it's phrased innocently. It's mainly the idea that being who you are isn't human or normal.
So instead of debating whether or not this will scare away any future ally, it's more important to focus on the things we definitely shouldn't demand from women trying to liberate and love themselves in spite of insensitive questions. Simple lessons in sensitivity and compassion can save you, but if that's still confusing, consult Google!
It is true that we all make mistakes and have plenty of learning to do when it comes to social justice, but asking someone you've offended to get you unconfused isn't the best way. Productive discussions about race, gender, and equality don't come from filling in the gaps. Real discussions come from doing your homework and coming to the table with an open mind. So just as a PSA, here are a few more things you can save yourself the trouble of asking, demanding, or suggesting — because black women don't owe you a response.
1. Why Black Hair Deserves Respect And Space.
If we aren't debating whether or not someone's hair violates a school's code of conduct, we are insisting that cultural appropriation be explained. But here's where black women draw the line. It's time to lay both things to rest, including the part about touching it. No, you cannot touch her hair. Just no.
2. How Black Woman Can Be Intelligent, Sexual Beings.
This may or may not surprise you, but there are plenty of black women out there who appreciate a Cardi B. record and submit it as a thesis about sex positivity and hip hop. Black women can enjoy sex and it has nothing to do with their intelligence.
3. Why Adjectives Like "Loud" or "Angry" Promote The Wrong Images.
These are words used to silence, not share the truth. Let's just stop using them and asking why they hurt. CC: Angry black woman stereotype.
4. Why Our Children's/Brothers'/Sisters' Lives Matter.
No more debates! Black lives matter, and it doesn't mean that others don't (there's your explanation).
5. Why It's Not OK To "Appreciate"/Copy The Culture.
No, rocking locs or cornrows as a white woman is not OK! You can be upset about it, or research the history of the culture.
6. Why There Can't Be Hashtags Like #WhiteGirlMagic.
It's just like asking why there isn't a "White History Month." It just doesn't make sense.
7. Why Our Mental Health Matters.
Did you know that there are black women living in places like Chicago experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? No, they aren't veterans or some other group with visibility in these issues, they're just existing out in the world next to you and me — and this is also why we need to deepen our understanding about mental health and how to better support WOC whose experiences create a different struggle with mental health.
8. Why We Aren't Just "Mad" About #BodyGoals Trends.
No one is shaming for getting cosmetic surgery or otherwise aiming to change their bodies, but it's also important to note as we start to embrace women who have curvier bodies and full features, we were once shamed for it when it wasn't the "cultural norm".
9. Why We Want Our Representation To Matter To Our Favorite Brands.
Just imagine a world where no one product seems to understand that your haircare journey or your struggle to find jeans that fit is different — traumatic even. However, it's compared to women who have bodies that are celebrated and features that are considered the social norm.
10. Why "Ghetto" Still Isn't A Word Everyone Should Use.
#sorrynotsorry. This word isn't meant to comment on things that are "broken" or "ugly." It just isn't, when there are real people living in poverty disproportionately.
11. Why Not All Of Us Are Feminists.
It's not about being divisive. It's about having space to be acknowledged and have your experiences actually be top priority for once.
12. Why "Articulate" Or "Well-Mannered" Aren't Compliments.
This also isn't a Shakespearean play.
13. Why Having A "Black Friend" Doesn't Mean You Get It.
If you've made an egregious error while chatting about anything racial, it probably isn't the best idea to pull that card. Ever.