Experiencing Racism as an African American

Segregation, Prejudice, Bigotry, Injustice, Black History Month, Black Lives Matter, Police

They Might Be Thinking:

  • Am I just imagining things? Why do I feel invisible in a room?
  • If I try to speak up, people will just talk over me. 
  • Nobody understands African American issues. 
  • I am tired of having to educate everyone around me. 
  • It’s exhausting having to explain to people why I don’t like to get my hair wet.
  • I work very hard, and sometimes it feels like no one notices. 
  • People don't take me seriously when I speak.
  • I don't feel as smart as my classmates, because my teacher does not call on me.
  • I am afraid of being stopped by the police when I drive.
  • I am not sure if my chances in an interview are as good as white candidates.
  • Sometimes people will move away from me when I come into a room.
  • I feel prejudged as an African American based on the images that are portrayed on TV and the internet.

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • What you’re describing sounds very difficult. I am sorry this happened to you.
  • Wow, I never have to deal with things like that. How can I better support you?
  • I wish people saw the things that I see in you (e.g., your courage, strength, kindness, etc.).
  • Dealing with these things every day must be so tiring. You are so resilient. 
  • We came to this topic, but if you aren’t comfortable sharing this with me, I respect your boundaries and we can discuss something else. 
  • I am listening and I care about your experience.
  • I can see how much this is affecting you. What would be best for you right now?
  • Even though things are different for me because I am not African American, I believe every word you’re telling me. 
  • You have such great awareness to know that what you’re going through is connected to being African American.
  • I could never know what it is like to be African American, and I am very willing to hear what it’s like for you if you feel comfortable with that. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • Isn't it easier to be African American if you really want to stand out?
  • Making comments related to not taking a knee during a sporting event.
  • Affirmative action has had a huge impact on leveling the playing field. What more would you like for people to do?
  • Well there’s nothing you can do; everyone knows you are African American. 
  • Are you sure there wasn’t just a miscommunication?
  • What you’re saying sounds a little far-fetched. 
  • African Americans aren’t discriminated against anymore.
  • But you don’t even sound like a black person. I did not know you were black until I met you in person.
  • You are a very intelligent person. Once people get to know you, they don't really think of you as black.
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