As a conscious black woman, I am always hyper tuned to every day racism. I have to be, since you can catch it off guard if you're not paying attention closely. The most watered down version of racism that we've all been taught is that it's another person hating another person for the color of their skin, but racism is so much more insidious than that. Racism is your two white friends getting help out of a car from a man while I don't receive any help. Racism is your white friend getting a student discount at a store by just saying she's a student at a university, but when I do it, I have to show my ID card, and the store clerk asks me to give her my school email.
If you're white, or a white passing minority, you're not going to notice these micro-aggressions as much as I do. When I see it around my neighborhood or in my city, I get used to it, but when traveling around the world, it's a different story. Here are some examples of casual racism I've felt all over the world.
Over the summer on my trip around Europe, when I first got to Amsterdam, I quickly became friends with an Australian guy. When we got to a club and he bought me a drink, I hung out with him and his friends and he casually slung his arm around my arm and said to his friends "this is my nigga." Now I kind of did a double take to myself and low key pretended not to hear. The only reason being is that I wasn't quite sure of what he said and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. You know how sometimes white people will say nigga in front of you and you let it slide because they get only one opportunity. That's what I did, I gave him that pass because I was drunk, I had eaten a space cake, and it was really loud in the club. I was like, there's bigger battles to fight and this isn't it. It was just a really awkward position to be in so I said nothing. I told myself next time I hear that I would have to step my foot down and let him know that you don't ever need to say that word in front of me. Well, on the last night together, he said it again about me in front of his friends. I had to lay down the law and say "I'm not your nigga, and don't ever call me that ever again in your life." I probably won't ever see him again, but I'm glad that I stood my ground this time. It's hard to be "mad" at him considering that I know white people see and hear and do say "nigga" on occasion or maybe even all the time, but here's some insider advice: don't ever call a black person your nigga under any circumstances unless you okay it with them first. And you have to do it with every single black person you ever meet. Due to the history and sensitivity of the word, there's different rules for how to say it, and you need to respect that.
My second stories is one of my favorites because it's a celebrity encounter. In Venice Beach, California, actor Peter Dante, D-list celebrity famous for being a background character in Adam Sandler movies such as Grown Ups, Big Daddy, and Grandma's Boy, happened to be walking around drunk off his ass in a restaurant on the beach where my friends and I were eating lunch. After harassing my friend's boyfriend and stealing some of their french fries, he came to my table and touched all of my friends on their cheek with his finger except for me because I backed away from him. Now, I don't like people touching me and getting in my face when they're drunk because it's annoying and my personal space is important. This is the reason why I backed away from him. When I did this, his jaw dropped like this had never happened in his life and took offense to that. From there, he started talking shit about all the things he's done for the black community about how he's friends with Bob Marley, who I'm sure has been dead longer than I've been alive, and how he's reinvented things for black people. While staring at him in his face, I wasn't really surprised about his drunken racist tirade towards me, one of the things I'm scared of is a drunk white man because they're known to be their most racist while drunk. I wasn't too worried about him because I knew that I could remove myself from the situation, but I would have been ready to kick him in the dick if he had harassed me more. Being the docile negro that Martin Luther King Jr. speaks of only works until they hit that last nerve, and when that's struck, that's when the Malcolm X and Angela Davis comes out.
The final story comes to the topic of my hair. While traveling overseas I had long box braids in my head and got questioned about it all the time. It was annoying because I realized that even overseas, black women aren't allowed to have long hair without people questioning if it's real. Now obviously I know it was fake, however, if you're a white person, or a white passing minority, how many times have you been asked if your hair is real or not no matter the length? Not too many times huh? The fact that black women can't have long hair without someone being in disbelief that it's not there is not only annoying, it's disrespectful, especially considering that your favorite white and white passing celebrity has weave all in their hair, and a lot of the time it looks bad. I'm looking at you Kylie Jenner, since you want to be black so bad. Fix those closures, y'a'll. At least black women know how to have a bomb ass sew in that looks real even if you dig all around her hair.
Now I know that I will probably have to deal with this casual racism all my life, but at least I'm learning how to deal with it by speaking up and putting anyone who racially disrespects me in their place. At times it can be really frustrating when I notice it and realize that it's going to take a long time for things to be different, but I'm hoping that in the future I can explore other countries without stupid stereotypes following me along the way.