1. What are you?
This is probably the most annoying thing that we get asked and it is also probably the most asked question. The reason this question is so problematic is that what people really mean to say is "why are you brown?" They aren't interested in you as a person, your heritage or where you come from. They just want to know why you look different from them and why your skin is brown.
2. How do you get your hair so curly?
As someone who grew up in a predominately white school system, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this question. Girl, I was born with curly hair. That is it. I love sharing my hair routine with other curly girls because our hair is something that unites us but when someone comes up to me with pin straight hair asking me how I got my hair so curly so that they can make their hair like mine is not only disrespectful but just plain ignorant. Plus all hair types are beautiful and we should totally love our own hair the way it is!
3. I don't see color!
People this is not a compliment to how amazingly non-racist you are. Instead it actually just makes you look even more disconnected and outdated. When you say you don't see color or gender what you are really saying is that we are invisible to you. Not only our struggles are invisible to you but our beauty and our culture in general. That is the problem! We are not asking you to be "color-blind," we are asking you to see us as we are and not just tolerate us but accept and support us.
4. You're so ethnic!
I have been told "you're so ethnic," "you have ethnic hair," "you have an ethnic look" and so on. This is a common statement that brown girls get told constantly. This relates back to the "why are you brown" question. You are seeing me as different than you so now I am in a completely different category of person than you are. I am now in the "ethnic" category where everyone who doesn't look white is stripped down and grouped together into one simple category.
5. Calm down/ relax!
Personally, for me, this is the worst. Please stop telling brown women to calm down or relax when they are simply expressing an opinion! I lived my entire life watching what I say and how I say it that I have become a perfect wordsmith when I chose to even speak at all. This happens all the time to women, especially brown women. It wasn't until recently that I have accepted that I will always be stereotyped as the "angry black woman" but it is still not right and will always be catch-22. If I speak my mind or stand up for myself I am angry, loud, aggressive, hysterical, unreasonable or PMSing. If I stay quiet than I am passive, submissive, weak, not smart enough to express myself properly or just not able to stand up against racist or sexist comments. Either way, I am set up to lose. So instead, I pride myself on being the "angry black woman" but it would be a whole lot easier if we were just listened to and respected.