In a year where racial inequities boiled to the surface, it’s become more important than ever to check latent racism within ourselves.
One of those things to consider: you can’t always tell someone’s race by the way that they look. Reddit user thatsgaerr found himself the target of that bit of latent racism.
After gently shutting it down, he received some backlash from the adults in his life. In order to discern if he’d done anything incorrectly, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for clarification:
Our original poster, or OP, set up the scene by describing his heritage and appearance.
“I’m(16M[ale]) mixed, but because my dad is pretty lightskin and my mom is irish and white as a ghost I look fully white as well, except my hair.”
“I have like 3b-3c hair type and I’ve had dreads for like past year.”
OP was then approached by a classmate, who called him out on his hair.
“So I was at school the other day, hanging out with my friends in the hallway and this one girl comes up to me.”
“She says ‘wow your hair looks great, wonder how it’ll look when it decides to fall out.’ I’m like what?”
“And she starts talking about me appropriating black culture and I clearly have fake hair with those dreads too because my hair is clearly not that thick and I clearly don’t have that much hair.”
OP just tried to gently understand this girl’s situation and shut down her misunderstanding.
“She says that she’s confused about how no one is saying anything about me being racist. I asked if she’s new here(because she obviously was), She says that doesn’t matter and she’s just grossed out by me.”
“I just laughed because it was funny to me, I said ‘alright, whatever helps you sleep at night’ and continued talking to my friends, they started laughing too and she stomped away somewhere.”
But then, OP was called into the office.
“Then of course I randomly get called into principal’s office.”
“He said that he gets that it was a misunderstanding but I was in the wrong for laughing at her instead of explaining it calmly, he told me that I should apologize.”
OP is wondering if it’s worth continuing to not apologize.
“I told him I didn’t wasn’t planning to apologize and left. Now he called my parents, I honestly don’t know why he’s making such a big deal out of this, and said that the girl is requesting the apology.”
“When I told them what happened they laughed too but think that it’s better if I just say sorry to her one time and get over it.”
Reddit helped OP decide where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Everybody sided with OP on this one.
“Request a meeting with your principal and tell them point blank that the school’s practices for dealing with racial insensitivity have made you uncomfortable and you don’t feel you should have to apologize for existing as a biracial person that didn’t meet another persons ‘standards.'”
“You would like an apology from her for assuming how people who belong to their respective racial identities SHOULD look and berating you because you did not meet her arbitrary and wrong expectations.”
“Also say you think it would be prudent if this girl was taught to get her facts straight before wrongly and rudely accusing people of things. Good luck. NTA.”~shestammie
“NTA. In truth, he’s the victim, he was targeted and berated in public, was gracious enough, and he owes an apology to his harasser?”
“Nah, she owes him an apology, time to demand one. He’s the real and the only victim, not her.”
“This coming from a biracial pasty looking Dominican being told time and time again that I can’t be Dominican because my people are black.”~dystopianpirate
“I’m biracial and have had the same issue with my 3A/3B hair, and have been told ‘You don’t look black, I thought you were white’.”
“People act like this excuses what they say to you and it doesn’t. What’s funny is, POC can usually tell and love my hair, give me tips on what would help (it’s soooo dry) and how to style it without harm.”
“Yet I’ve been told by white people that I shouldn’t try to use black products or hair styles because it makes me look ignorant.”
“Just because I’m light in color (my dad isn’t but my grandma is in his side so I guess I took after her) doesn’t mean my culture and how I was raised is magically different.”
“It’s insulting that he would even be asked to apologize. Hasn’t the principal or the girl ever heard the phrase,’ Never assume, when you assume you make an a** of you and me’ totally applies.”
“If she thinks she knows so much, I shouldn’t have to teach her anything. She could’ve politely asked. He did AMAZING by simply laughing. And like someone else said, there’s nothing wrong with laughing.”~Jazz-CRZ
“So first he gets attacked out of nowhere for not looking black enough, and then the school administration uses his blackness against him to punish him for upsetting a white girl without disciplining the other girl at all for provoking the incident.”
“OP’s laughter is being characterized as threatening or antagonistic by the principal asking him to apologize.”
“While the girl was just trying to be an ally and didn’t deserve to be made to feel like she made a foolish mistake after she made a foolish, hostile mistake!”
“She had to go through so many steps to explain why OP’s hair looked so good despite her thinking he was white instead of just realizing that maybe OP is actually black.”
“Instead of an apology, this girl needs to learn to recognize her own racism that leads her to believe she is entitled to OP’s forced politeness and contrition.”
“This scenario happens constantly, so everyone doubting that it could happen is being willfully ignorant. NTA.”~scrapsforfourvel
In fact, people think OP should completely reverse course and demand an apology from the girl and the school.
“NTA Someone made a whole lot of assumptions about you and tried to call you racist simply for existing in a way her small view of life couldn’t comprehend.”
“You took the high road and brushed it off. You don’t owe her any sort of explanation or apology.”~DasTimmeh14
“You could call a meeting with her and, in front of the principal say, ‘I’m sorry you’re projecting your own racism on me and ASSUMING I’m not biracial because I’m ‘not black enough’.”
“You didn’t bother to learn that my father is black before spouting off and making yourself look like a joke I happened to laugh at.”
“Perhaps next time you decide to be ‘woke’ and call someone out, you should ask if they aren’t actually a part of the minority you’re trying to white knight.”
“Maybe you should avoid immediately insulting someone when you know nothing about them.”
“DO NOT APOLOGIZE TO A WHITE GIRL FOR NOT BEING BLACK ENOUGH.”
“This is NOT the way to stand up for black folks. You don’t just walk up to someone you don’t know an insult them. The audacity of this girl.”
“And the audacity of the school to ask you apologize for hurting HER feelings when she didn’t stay in her lane.”
“You need to give that principal a reality check.”~SweetSue67
“NTA – Dude your school is nuts. She attacked you verbally and accused you of being racist and appropriating culture.”
“First of all it is not racist to have your hair like that, but she was racist for thinking so.”
“Second, she should apologize to you for her nasty verbal attack.”
“Finally, you laughed instead of responding in anger or being nasty back to her like she was. It seems to be like you took the high road.”
“Maybe the school should suspend her for accosting someone minding their own business.”~Lenformerexaminer
After all, what the girl did was, in fact, racist.
“NTA. She came up to you and started berating/accusing you. She’s the one who should apologize to you.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to people who don’t have have the common courtesy to ask around before going off on a rant.”~chickenwing4life
“NTA – She was the one making racist assumptions (no matter what her skin color is). She owes YOU an apology.”
“Your Principal also owes you an apology. Sorry, but you’re supposed to ‘teach her?'”
“You’re the student. And since when is laughing a crime?”~April_Spring_1982
“NTA, ask your principal if you’d have to apologize if your skin were darker, I bet he’ll stammer like an idiot.”
“Your parents will probably set her straight regardless. You wouldn’t have been in the wrong even if you had cursed her out, she was being an ignorant bully and deserved to be put in her place.”
“I find your restraint given the circumstances commendable.”~shadowfax12221
“Ask the principal if she plans on apologizing for walking up to a complete stranger in a new school and calling them a racist.”
“Tell him HER ‘mistake’ came before your ‘mistake’ of laughing at her.. so once she apologizes for straight up assuming he was someone she should be ‘sick over’ you’ll apologize for laughing at her being offended on behalf of other people.”
“NTA. She came up to YOU and insulted YOU. If anything, apologize for laughing instead of being offended that SHE made ASSUMTIONS about YOU over the COLOR of your SKIN.”~LKJNAElhjberg
Reddit unequivocally agrees that OP is the target of a racist microaggression in this moment. A White girl who didn’t think this biracial teenager was Black enough is now demanding an apology because she made assumptions based on the color of his skin.
While Reddit thinks OP should demand an apology, it is unclear if he will; but he’s not likely to apologize to this White girl.