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Passive Aggressive Racism in English

I’ve been doing inner work to uncover my own prejudice and bias these past few weeks.

I have more understanding of what white privilege means and a better understanding of what Black Lives Matter means. I can love and appreciate our thin blue line while admonishing those who break their oath in regards to protecting and serving.


I’m listening.


Feeling pretty helpless, I wondered how I could make any kind of difference in this time.

How could I make any kind of impact on the conversations we’re having and actually be of value and service?

Since I’m a total word-nerd, I thought I’d start there. Stay in my lane.


I strongly feel that part of bias can be uncovered in the language you use.

So, I did some research on how racist beliefs find their way into common language.


Please know that I understand most people using these words are phrases are not trying to be racist.

They usually are not even picturing a Black person if they say these things.

However, I believe we need to move away from the core belief that black is bad and white is good.


Racism can be subtle. It can be sneaky… but inflicts damage no matter what.


Dismantling racism starts in the heart, the mind AND the mouth. 


Amending language is part of the cornerstone in moving as a society completely away from racist, xenophobic beliefs.


I don’t pretend to know what we should replace all of these words and phrases with, but just being aware of much black is used to describe something BAD is a great way to make your brain aware of how hurtful these kinds of words and phrases can be.


Racism in the English Language

Words and phrases that need to gtfo of English.


Here are two sites I visited in my initial dive into the use of the word ‘black’ in English:





Here are the phrases and words I found most often that point to black being bad and white being good:




Black Sheep- undesirable, does not fit in, rebellion, unsalvageable, not a part of the family. Those poor sheep… rejected because they could not be capitalized upon. Ugh.


Blacklist/Whitelist-  We should use blocklist and safelist instead. That is much more logical.


Black Market


Blackened Soul


She or he blackened their good name. 


Black Magic vs White Magic


White angel/Black devil


Blackmark on your record or black mark by your name


Black hat vs White hat (good guy vs bad guy scenarios)


Blackhat vs Whitehat SEO practices – https://unamo.com/university/what-is-the-difference-between-white-hat-seo-and-black-hat-seo#:~:text=Black%20hat%20SEO%20refers%20to,so%20much%20a%20human%20audience.&text=White%20hat%20SEO%20refers%20to,opposed%20to%20a%20search%20engine.


As black as the devil.  I mean, if this is based on fire and brimstone and we know that fire produces both black and white ash, then why is Satan black?  In fact, the more intense a fire is, the whiter it is. Furthermore, satan used to not be a name but it’s based on a Hebrew word for adversary. It does not point to any kind of color. On top of that, satan’s actual name is Lucifer, which means, morning star and “light bringing”. Hmmmmmm… 


Being in someone’s black book- falling out of favor with them. Being sinful.  https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/little-black-book#:~:text=Origin%20of%20Little%20Black%20Book,who%20were%20sinful%20were%20written.


Little white lie- harmless lie. Well, a lie is a lie and lying is crappy but if it’s ‘white’ it’s OK? Maybe use “little innocent lie” or “little harmless lie”  or “little innocuous lie” instead? 


He or she has a black soul. I think the color black is beautiful… so this was always a weird phrase to me.


It was a black day. A day of dire circumstances.


His/Her mood was black. Blackened mood.


The black market.


Black deeds


Blackballing- The origin does not seem to be racist in nature, but…it’s still white being a good thing and black being a bad thing. https://www.etymonline.com/word/blackball


Black economy


The future looks black.


Black propaganda


She or he gave me black looks.


One of the blackest moments in history. 


Black Swan- unfortunate and unforeseen event with extreme consequences. A curse. Even insanity. Seriously? Black swans are birds. Rare, beautiful birds. That’s it. 


Black cats- anyone who thinks something or someone is evil or unlucky because of the color of its fur or skin is freaking stupid. 


Dive Deeper

More offensive common words and phrases in English:


Being sold down the river- Being betrayed. Stems from slaves who were punished by being sent further South where the conditions were harsher. Sooooooooo evil.


Rule of Thumb- stems from a law that a husband could beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Fuck that.



Don’t be an Indian Giver




I had no idea how offensive the word moron is!! That will definitely be a habit for me to break.



Stop saying “I just can’t believe it!” when we hear horrible stories about racism. Yep, I’m totally guilty of saying that. What I should have said is, “That is beyond awful and I’m horrified” because that is actually what I meant.



Don’t say things like, “Can I touch your hair?” and “I’m colorblind”. 



Burgess suggests that the term “culturally deprived” be replaced with “culturally dispossessed,” and that term “economically disadvantaged” be replaced by economically exploited.” 



Plus, I want to add that I’m disgusted when American citizens are either ignored or attacked because they are not of European, white descent. It makes me sick, actually. Everything from internment camps in WWII https://www.npr.org/2016/12/07/504602293/at-92-a-japanese-american-reflects-on-the-hardships-of-internment-camps to how the Asian businesses were totally ignored and allowed to burn to the ground during the LA riots of the ‘90s https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/us/la-riots-korean-americans/index.html


The list goes on.


Here are some real facts about immigrants in the US:



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Anyway, I’m not trying to be an expert of any kind.

I’m just an American woman grappling with her country’s past, it’s present time, and her own bias.

I want to help make our country and the world a better place for ALL of our kids and for those who are suffering right now.

I speak from a mom’s heart.


Knowing that our country was founded on a Trail of Tears and the backs of slaves and migrant workers is not lost on me.


When you dive into our language, entertainment, and culture, you see our values on display. 


The world is watching. Do we like what they see?

Since we have a major presence of some kind in every nation on the planet, yes, I do believe this is something we should care about.


It’s time for the vast majority of Americans who are NOT racist and are NOT hateful, who believe in the power of the US Constitution to defend all US citizens and be amended as American society expands, to stand up and pay attention to policy at all levels. 


Let this be a great awakening, the great repair… let it be a time where the majority rises up to show the world who we REALLY are.


Let’s make sure that the hateful fringe will no longer be writing or hiding behind antiquated bullshit policies and laws.


Also, if I’ve missed anything on this list, let me know! I’ll add it in.

This is simply based on what I found so far and what stood out the most in my research in the past 2 weeks.


Much Love and Light,