Is "black eye" a racist microaggression?

Far be it from me, a privileged white man, to define "black eye" as a racist microaggression. The sensitivity police, who find racism, trigger warnings and hate speech everywhere, somehow have missed this one. Here I've beaten them to the punch.

For the uninitiated, microgressions are:

... the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

A black eye. Even though it's mostly read and yellow.

A black eye. Even though it's mostly red and yellow.

Hence,  clapping is a microaggression because it might make deaf people feel excluded and expecting people to be on time could offend because  some cultures consider time to be “fluid." Yes, pretty ridiculous, as so many microaggressions are. 

So why isn't "black eye" a microaggression? Black has a load of negative meanings: Blackmail, black mark, black market, blackball, black sheep, black market and black hat.  The pot calling the kettle black. We wear black, not white, to funerals. And the worst, "black death," the catastrophic plaque that killed 50 million people or  60 per cent of Europe’s entire population, in the 14th century

So I was flabbergasted  when I heard a black man use "black eye" to point to something bad.

Mike Espy, a Democrat running for a U.S. Senate seat from Mississippi  claimed that his Republican rival and incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was giving the state a "black eye" by using a "racist" comment that confirms the worst stereotypes about Mississippi. He referred to her saying that she thought so highly of a supporter that she would join him at a "public handing." In other words, she supposedly was reinforcing an old stereotype of Mississippi as a hotbed of lynchings. (The two have a runoff election tomorrow, Nov 27.)

I don't know who gets to define something as a microaggression. They seem to pop up unexpectedly and without warning. It's as if an anonymous Grand Poobah has issued an edict in secret that only becomes widely known when the masses leap on an unsuspecting victim who didn't know that he had broken the law.

So far, my browser fails to identify "black eye" as a racist microaggression. But now that I've mentioned it, who knows?

(In case you're wondering, I'm not for labeling "black eye" a racist microaggression. I'm hoping that by mentioning it first, I'm cutting it off at the pass.)

Want to subscribe? Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    I often wonder who gets to decide the 'new speech' definitions too. It is kind of like Orwell's 1984---we never find out who or what is Big Brother.

  • I hope you've cut off the idea, too, Dennis. I think people need to know what expressions mean in order to stop getting the wrong ideas. I've always thought of a black eye as another, probably more polite, name for a bruise. But also, I've learned not to mind when someone talks about a "left-handed compliment" and means an insult. That is, I don't mind the "left-handed equals backwards" idea any more -- I realize that this is true for the majority. I use "backhanded compliment" to get the idea across for my left-handed self. But then, I'm conscious of words just the way I'm conscious of notes in music. We need them, or we're silent.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    My son and grandson are left-handed. I think they're special.

  • fb_avatar

    I always wanted to be a lefty during my entire years as a Baseball failure. Two steps closer to 1st base. I figured I would have had maybe 350 more hits. By the time I was comfortable switch hitting I was to old and slow. I wonder if old LEFY Gomez resented being called LEFTY I guess Lefty was better than a switch hitter in those days. Wow, a person's got to be careful now adays. Black Friday,Black balled,Black out,YIKES.

  • "Black eye" has been around since 1600. I think it's here to stay. Unless you prefer "periorbital hematoma".

  • BTW, in China isn't white is the color of mourning?

  • Can you blame a black person for objecting to a joke about lynching by a candidate for the U.S. Senate in a state that had the most lynching of black citizens?

  • Life was so much simpler in an America dominated by White males. Wasn't it?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    C'mon, Jerry, don't be a buzzkill. I apologize if that is anti-fly.

  • I suppose we need to take a look at the term "blacklist".

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Visit my new website

    I'm a freelance writer, editor and author. I can help you with a wide variety of projects. Check out my new website at

  • Subscribe to The Barbershop

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Dennis Byrne’s Facebook Fan Page

  • Like me on Facebook

  • Our National Debt

  • Twitter

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

    • fb_avatar
      Illinois bonds administered by Mr. Whipple. He;s well qualified because he's used to working with rolls of Charmin.....
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • Oh my. It's early yet, Dennis, but you have a point. Suddenly I'm not looking at the 2020 campaign stories…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • fb_avatar
      Thanks for sharing.I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • Yes, it seems there's been a tsunami of apologies or demands for them. Apologies? Look where it got…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • fb_avatar
      I'm sorry, Dennis. I have no idea what I'm sorry for, but I'm so sorry nevertheless.
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
  • /Users/dennisby/Desktop/trailer.mp4
  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: