Meet Sami, a sophomore based in LA pursuing a degree in communications and working as a paraeducator at a local elementary school.
1. Microaggressions and covert racism are way too normalized and a daily occurrence for people of color (and sometimes expressed by people within our own communities). How do you respond to them?
Growing up I have been the token black person in almost every setting. I have grown to speak up for myself as well as be able to handle my responses from ignorant or oblivious racist comments. At work people have always commented on how i speak.
They'll say, "you’re so well-spoken"
I have to kindly respond "you’re right, I speak the way I was raised—with class"
I also often get comments on how my hair looks much better when its not out in its big curly afro
They'll say, "I like your hair better pinned back or in a braid"
Some will even go further to say, "your hair just looks better when is not so puffy"
I often catch myself feeling insecure about these types of comments, but I usually respond with "is my hair too pretty for your eyes? It’s so big I’d feel the same way"
Lastly the one I have received more than once and one of the most racist comments I have experienced is "go back to where you came from."
Always with a smile I respond, "back home or back back? Well you brought me to this country so drop me off on your way back? Will you be joining me on this journey?"
2. How do you practice self-care in these situations?
In dealing with these situations and it seems like almost weekly occurrences, especially in this social/political climate. I was raised that ignorance is taught and some people grow up and learn for themselves and others don’t. Often starting an argument doesn’t help the issue if someone is stuck in their ways. All you can do is be kind because fighting ignorance and racism with more negativity leaves no space for growth. I applaud those that are blatantly racist because that means I have the opportunity to possibly change their mindset or just learn that they are not the type of people i need to be around. All in all, as women of color, learn to stand your ground because our voice will always be too loud for a world that never intended on listening to us.