5 Sentences That Make You Sound Racist

5 Sentences That Make You Sound RacistI consider myself an understanding and empathetic person. I get that in today’s society it can be easy to unintentionally offend someone. Sometimes people have different meanings of what “politically correct” is. Add to it the fact we each have various ignorances & it becomes, well, a hot mess. This leads me to believe that it is possible for good-hearted people to make ignorant comments, even like the ones below, without ill-will attached. My husband generally disagrees and thinks that I’m naive and too forgiving.

I do have a track record of naivety & it’s been brought to my attention that I make excuses for people, including complete strangers. So ultimately, when it comes to racism I err on the side of caution. Put simply: if it walks like a duck & talks like a duck, it’s a duck.

When we speak, we’re cluing people in as to who we really are. If you were to say something along the lines of the below five sentences, I would employ caution with you going forward. And you would be moved to the periphery.

At the worst, I’d think you were a closet racist. You know, nice to my face but when with like-minded people your true colors come out? Whether that’s true or not, when you speak such a sentence you leave it open for interpretation. So to help you sound “less racist,” I’ve put together what I hope is a helpful short-list.

1!!!“She or he is articulate.”

{with a hint of surprise in your voice}

How did you expect him, her, & I to speak? Are you surprised that a black person is as intelligent as you? Before answering, honestly ask yourself if such a thought would’ve entered your mind if said person was caucasian. Probably not, because you generally expect white people to be articulate, right?

What You Should Do Instead

Say Nothing. If the thought enters your mind, acknowledge it by quietly telling yourself that line of thinking is no longer valid; then let it go.

“What are you?”2!!!

Uhhh… human; what are you?!

This irritates me on so many levels. For one thing, most people who ask this don’t know me, so “mind your business.” Second, this could be a question that a person has yet to answer for him or herself. You never know where someone is on their journey, you could be putting someone on the spot. Last, why do you so strongly feel the need to put people in “categories” and “boxes?” Does it make you feel safe in some way? Good luck with that.

What You Should Do Instead

Feel free to chat, but leave race out of it. Curiosity is great! But don’t make your curiosity someone else’s problem.

3!!!“He’s a good-looking BLACK man.”

As opposed to a __________ man?

Just curious as to why you find it necessary to specify that this good-looking man is black? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if this man had been white you wouldn’t have specified so. Can you see how that kind of sounds… racist? Like what you really mean is, “Wow. I’m surprised I find a black man attractive, because black men are generally not attractive.” Not cool.

Also, there’s never a need to specify a person’s race within the context of telling a story unless it’s relevant to said story. Just a bonus, FYI type of thing.

What You Should Do Instead

Feel free to still pay the compliment, just leave race out of it. Ex: ‘He’s handsome.’ ‘She’s pretty.’

“Can I touch your hair?”4!!!


Stop asking if you can touch my hair. I am not an animal, I am not to be pet. GROSS! I don’t know you! Were you just born with a sense of entitlement? Would you want a stranger touching you?! I do not let anyone touch my hair; I barely touch it! It’s fragile & delicate. HANDS OFF! Who do you think you are?!

What You Should Do Instead

Do NOT ask to touch a stranger in any way! Give compliments all you want, leaving race out of it obviously. Feel free to ask styling questions, etc., but do not touch or ask to touch.

5!!!“You didn’t tell me your wife was BLACK!”


Ummmm…… That’s just weird.

What You Should Do Instead

Don’t say this. Simple. Why? Because it’s irrelevant. But when you speak this sentence you’re telling me that it’s obviously relevant to you in some way. You’re immediately moved to the periphery.

So? What do you think??

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer :: Blogger & Creator of TheSunnyShadow.com


  1. Tonya

    So true to all! My youngster daughter wears her hair in a long braid, almost to her butt. People are always touching it. She would love to use your response. Love your point of view!

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