Wednesday, May 18, 2022

On Faux Compliments

I know, I know, this poorly prepped for media parent is clearly vying for fame and I should just ignore her. 
And yet. As a mixed race person, who, by the way is part native Hawaiian, having people tell you weird things that in their brain is clearly a compliment but actually is just not, well it can be hard to explain. 
So, to the teen who is Black and white (but not Hawaiian) who's mom went on TV to say that school taught him to see himself as Black and to see that there is racism in the world, I am sorry. And then she said, on TV mind you, that you don't even look Black, you look Hawaiian. 
I am sorry. 
Because let's unpack what happened here. This parent decided that it was a problem that her child identified as his actual race. And in order to support her feeling that he should not consider himself Black, she stated that he doesn't look Black. 
A. If he is Black, then he looks Black. 
I realize a lot of people are confused by this. But people not looking the way you expect is not a failure of their appearance, it is a failure of your imagination.
B. People can be Black and Hawaiian. Just like they can be Black and white. 
And look, I know there are some people thinking, well, she just meant she thinks he's handsome like Jason Momoa or Keanu Reeves. And, even if she did mean that, the way to compliment someone is not so say they look like something they are not. Because if you actually appreciated what they were, you wouldn't need to change it to compliment them. 
Happy AAPI Heritage Month folks!