You Might Be a Racist If…

40 answers to the tough question: “Wait…am I a racist?”

It’s weird how Black people experience racism daily, but the average white person doesn’t think they are racist. Racism is not limited to white robes, lynchings, and burning crosses. It plays out in the daily “paper cuts” that are inflicted upon BIPOC all day every day by the hegemonic class. Since there seems to be some confusion about what constitutes racism, and who is performing these racist acts, I thought I would provide some clarity. Here is a non-exhaustive list of thoughts and behaviors that are tell-tale signs of racism. 

You might be a racist if:

  1. You have ever tried to explain away a noose.
  2. You get angrier at being called racist or being told that you might have racist tendencies, than at actual racism, or people dying because of racism.
  3. You tell racist jokes or raise no objection when other people do.
  4. You don’t tell racist jokes, but still raise no objection when other people do.
  5. You boast about having Black friends. Or let’s be honest: ONE Black friend. And you think you’re cooler because of “having one.”
  6. You think you have the right to use the N word.
  7. You avoid the N word, but use other racial epithets.
  8. You have ever felt afraid or uncomfortable on the rare occasion that you are the numerical minority in a group. Yet…
  9. …You minimize/fail to understand the stress and trauma that BIPOC experience from constantly being in the numerical minority in certain spaces.
  10. You don’t even know what BIPOC means and can’t be bothered to Google it.
  11. You only speak one language (probably not as well as you think), but look down upon people of color who are bilingual or multilingual.
  12. You “prefer” Black people who don’t look “too Black,” and Black people who don’t act “too Black.” Whatever that means.
  13. You prefer to buy a book on racism written by a non-POC rather than supporting the plethora of Black and brown authors with actual lived experience of racism.
  14. You think there is such a thing as a blue life. C’mon now. This is not Avatar. (I will not even get into the whole “All lives…” debate. There isn’t one.)
  15. An all-white Board of Directors is ok, but you would have an issue with an all-Black Board of Directors.
  16. You “just can’t find” people of color to hire, and/or you only promote people that look like you.
  17. You have ever told a BIPOC that they are: “not like the others,” “so intelligent,” very articulate,” or “pretty for a (insert ethnic group).”
  18. You have ever asked a minority “Where are you from, really?”
  19. You voted for Obama but none of your friends are POC.
  20. You have ever clutched your purse/wallet out of fear that a person of color would steal it.
  21. You have ever assumed that a person of color driving a nice car has stolen it.
  22. You have ever refused service or reduced the level of service that you offer to a person of color.
  23. You have ever assumed a person of color can’t afford your product or service.
  24. You are socially isolated from Black people, and you’re ok with that.
  25. You are ok with gentrification (what I personally call modern urban colonization), but think that Black people moving into your neighborhood is a bad thing.
  26. You are ok with police killing Black men, but deeply concerned with brick and mortar buildings being damaged.
  27. You tone-police people of color to preserve your own comfort.
  28. You were more concerned about Harambe than Trayvon Martin. (Google it.)
  29. You posted a black square on #blackoutTuesday, then deleted it afterwards because you “didn’t feel comfortable.”
  30. ALL you have done to “combat racism” is post a black square, write a PR statement, or release an apology video.
  31. You are more comfortable with Black and brown people who are not in positions of power, or who do menial jobs.
  32. You think Black people don’t feel pain to the same degree and in the same way as white people.
  33. A lot of people in your circle are racist.
  34. You’re ok with the confederate flag.
  35. You’re ok with peaceful protests, but not with Colin Kaepernick kneeling.
  36. You see any redeeming qualities in the Orange One. 
  37. You deliberately mispronounce or replace people’s names that you view as difficult or problematic. If you can pronounce Tchaikovsky or schadenfreude, you can pronounce our names.
  38. When you invite your work team to your home, or to a group outing, you exclude the people of color that you work with. Or…
  39. You use the fact that you are socializing with a non-white person to virtue-signal.
  40. You are a “Karen” or have been stricken by Karenitis. In other words, if Black people merely existing gives you the willies, you might, in fact, be a racist. If you are further spurred to call the police on people whose only crime is being Black while existing, then you’re racist AND evil. 

#thatsthatonthat #blacklivesmatter #racism #whitefragility #isaidwhatisaid #classisinsession

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Text and images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix


  1. Kathleen Hurley says:

    A well-thought-out list. Great job. Keep going, Lisa

    1. Thanks so much, Mummy. Appreciate the encouragement.

  2. Devi says:

    Thank you for this post.

    1. Thanks for reading, Devi!

  3. Santana H. says:

    Don’t forget if you cross the street when you see a POC approaching then cross back over after passing. This happens to me at least twice a week in Alameda California.

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