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.
Quick Picks for Encouraging Someone Experiencing Racism as an African American
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