Unfortunately, overt racism is not uncommon—the hurling of racial slurs and epithets and hate crimes still occur. However, they are not as prevalent as they once were. More often, racial discrimination is subtle: often unintentional behaviors, remarks, or incidents that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults.
These actions can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint, so let’s review some examples of microaggressions to get a clearer picture of what race discrimination looks like.
Unfortunately, many people of color (POCs) can tell you that they have been followed around a shop by the owner or another customer. This comes from the stereotype that people of color are likely to steal. Even when someone isn’t directly accusing a POC of stealing, it’s still hateful and harmful.
Although the person may claim their actions are in the interest of "security," it becomes a microaggression when it's predominantly targeted toward people of color. This subtle act of discrimination contributes to the feeling of not being trusted and a sense of alienation.
This comment sounds like a compliment at first, but when you dig deeper, it’s actually a painful insult to an entire group of people. When someone predominantly says this to a POC, particularly a fully grown adult, the insulation is that the person is surprised a person of color can speak well.
Understand that articulateness is not a characteristic inherent to any racial or ethnic group. You should be aware of any blanket statement given to a group of people, even if you think it’s a compliment.
People of color often find themselves mistakenly identified as workers or staff in public spaces, and this is one of the most common examples of microaggressions. It is prevalent in predominantly white spaces. While it may seem harmless, it reinforces detrimental stereotypes that associate POCs with menial jobs or service roles.
On some occasions, this may occur because the person of color is wearing similar clothes to the workers in a business. Still, it’s best to search for a badge or name tag instead of assuming.
This behavior insinuates that people of color are threats, requiring others to guard themselves or their possessions. This assumption is deeply rooted in harmful stereotypes that associate POCs with violent or criminal behavior.
Again, this is an instance where no one is actively stating people of color are inherently criminals, but the insinuation is still there. While these microaggressions are “subtle,” they are salt in the wounds of people who receive hate because of the color of their skin.
If you believe you’ve experienced racial discrimination or profiling, contact the Law Firm of Tamara N Holder. As a racial profiling lawyer, she understands that racism isn’t always overt and will do everything she can to get you the justice you deserve.