I often get praised for my intelligence. Even though that sounds like a compliment, sometimes the implication is: you’re smart…for a black girl.
One day, in the car with my mom, she told me, “It’s not always a compliment if someone says you’re articulate.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“If you were white, people would assume that you’re smart,” she said, keeping her eyes on the road. After that we sat in an uncomfortable silence.
My parents and I are pretty close, but until that conversation, we hadn’t talked about how people might judge me by the color of my skin.
Since then, I’ve started noticing microaggressions everywhere. Like employees following me around a store, or people moving their purses when I sit next to them.
In the 7th grade, a classmate asked me, “Why do you look black, but act white?”
In the moment, I shrugged my shoulders. But on the inside I was embarrassed and aggravated. I realize that, while it’s hard to speak up, that just means people will keep stereotyping people like me.
So the next time someone asks me that, I’ll be sure to have a better comeback.