Not all questions are harmless.
If we're being honest, we all make assumptions about other people, right?
We look at their skin, their clothes, and their car, and we make guesses about them that we don't even realize we're making. Everyone does it.
You ask a pregnant female coworker if she'll keep working after the baby is born — but you wouldn't think to ask that question of a guy who was about to become a dad.
You ask that nice girl behind the counter at the bagel shop whether she'll ever go to college so she can get a better job — only to learn that she's an underemployed Ph.D.
You ask a hipster-looking guy on the subway whether he's into artisanal pickles — but he just happens to be a bad dresser who has no idea what you're talking about.
The fact is, though, that people of color deal with other people's assumptions constantly.
Research shows that other people's expectations can have a profound effect on us. They can determine our success or failure. And black women deal with this nonsense more than others. In a recent study, nearly half of the female black and Latina scientists polled reported being mistaken for janitors or administrative staff.
Let's agree to fix this.