11 Unbelievable Microaggressions That Black Women Hear On (Almost) A Daily Basis

black women

Microaggression [noun \ mi·cro·ag·gres·sion  \ ˌmī-krō-ə-ˈgre-shən : a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).

Harvard University professor and psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce was the first to come up with the term "microaggression" back in the 1970s. Initially it was used to describe comments made to non-white people by white people, but over the years it has expanded to include gender (i.e., mansplaining) and sexuality (i.e., describing something unappealing as "gay"). If you're a living, breathing human being who interacts with others you've either experienced a microaggression or are guilty of delivering one.

Black women are marginalized in both gender and ethnicity, opening them up to a myriad of microaggressions that are unavoidable. From casual encounters on the streets with strangers to inappropriate remarks in the workplace, black women are faced with sly statements that denigrate them. 

Now, there are those who don't believe that microaggressions truly exist. They think that the comments towards marginalized people aren't the problem; it's people's "victimhood" responses that create a perceived disadvantaged culture.

Yeah, okay. 

Whether you want to believe in them or not, microaggressions exist, and black women endure them on a daily basis. We've put together a list of the most common 11 microaggressions that black women hear — some disguised as compliments. Comment and let us know your experiences with microaggressions and how you responded!

1 / 11

Being Told That You Sound White

There is a fallacy being perpetuated that speaking in complete sentences and using S.A.T. words while communicating your thoughts emotionally and rationally is something that only white people can do. It isn't a compliment to tell black women, or even a black person, that they sound white. The person delivering the comment is assuming that all black women aren't intelligent and should adhere to some "Maury" show stereotype.

2 / 11

"When I Look At You, I Don't See Color"

What does "not seeing color" even mean? If you have sight and don't see the world in shades of gray, then yes, you see color. It isn't something that should be negative. All people, in all of their shades, are beautiful. Skin color shouldn't define who your are, but it is apart of who you are. We shouldn't have to run from it. To say to a black woman that you look at her and don't see color is to say that you are ignoring an element of her blackness. Many people who use this statement would rather ignore matters of race by referring to us all as one big happy non-colorful family than address issues that need to be discussed. 

black women
3 / 11

Being Told To "Smile More"

It's true that women of all ethnicities are told to "smile more," especially when men are catcalling or trying to hit on them. However, because of the "angry black woman" stereotype that's been maintained in the media for decades, if we don't put on a happy face we're told we're intimidating. Also, because of our attributions to the entertainment industry, black people are seen as creatives and entertainers who exist to amuse. Nah.

4 / 11

"You're Like An Oreo!"

Trust us, there is no such things as being "white on the inside." Just because a black woman may listen to classic rock and list her favorite show as My So-Called Life, it doesn't mean she doesn't wake up every morning appreciating her blackness and culture. Plus, we're not cookies. 

black woman
5 / 11

"You're Hair's Not Nappy, What Are You Mixed With?"

If y'all don't stop with that "good-hair-bad-hair" mess, we don't know what we're going to do. It's 2017 and people still find it hard to believe that black women aren't defined by their hair styles or textures. There are plenty of light-skinned women who have kinky hair textures, and many dark-skinned women who don't. Just because a black woman isn't sporting an afro or has loose curls or wavy natural hair doesn't mean she's of mixed race. Also, nappy hair should never be a description of black women. 

6 / 11

Calling Black Women "Ghetto" When They Are Upset

The "ghetto" is a place, not a person, and just because a black woman becomes upset doesn't mean she should be pigeonholed to just being a neck-rolling, finger-snapping stereotype. When black women are angry, they're told they're being too loud, acting ghetto, or being too sensitive. While there may be individual cases where a black woman is overreacting, it doesn't mean that all should be held to the standard of some.

black woman natural hair
7 / 11

Touching Our Hair Without Permission

Do. Not. Touch. Our. Hair. I know our hairstyles are something of pure art and should be admired, but people who violate others' personal space by touching their hair is just inappropriate. It may not seem like a big deal because it isn't as if someone is grabbing their behinds, but it is. We're not animals that you get to pet because you think we're cute; we're people, and if you admire or find something about us that is attractive, it's A-Okay to verbalize that before pawing at us.

black woman graduation
8 / 11

Assuming Our Accomplishments Are A Result Of Affirmative Action

Newsflash: black women are smart. College graduates or not, black women hold both professional and creative jobs. While there are people who have benefited from affirmative action, not everyone who has been appointed a position in the workplace or at university has. Black women who hold positions in companies that employ mostly white people are often met with assumptions that they were only hired because of some loophole and not because they've worked hard to get where they are.

9 / 11

"How Many Baby Daddys Do You Have?"

This is real life, not The Jerry Springer Show. Some black women have children, some don't. Some have more than one father to her children, some don't. Oh, and let's not forget, there are plenty of black women who don't have any children at all and assuming that black women have a slew of Bebe's Kids just because that's what you see on TV or hear on the radio can come across as insulting.

10 / 11

"Why Do All Black Women..."

As much as we love to stand in solidarity with our black sisters and speak on behalf of issues that plague us, we can't answer why all black women do anything. Yes, we are our sister's keepers, but if you want to know why your black, female neighbor specifically does something, ask her. Don't attribute behaviors and stereotypes to all black women and then ask the black women that you may know to give you some blacksplaination.

Page 1 of 2



Detroit born. Los Angeles raised. Dark. Lovely. Spiritualist. Diviner. Crafter. True crime writer, spoken word poet, storyteller, social activist. Insta: @earthtoerikamarie - Snap: MsErikaMarie - Twitter: @EarthToEMarie | medium.com/@earthtoerika


Georgia o'keefe painting

An Important Message To Men: It's Called A Vulva

model with headdress illustration

6 Perfect Examples Of What Cultural Appropriation Really Is

woman with red hair and black lipstick looking off into the distance

I Was A White Feminist Once — Here's How I Changed My Ways


7 Feminist AF Questions To Ask On Your Next Date

parkland students tony awards

Parkland Shooting Survivors Performed 'Seasons Of Love' At The Tony Awards & Yes, It Will Definitely Make You Cry

Chisako Kakehi

This 71-Year-Old Japanese Black Widow Is Suspected Of Killing At Least Six Of Her Lovers