I don't know about you, but I hate it when a compliment is laced with a qualifier. For instance, "you're pretty for a black girl." that was probably the most devastating compliment that I repeatedly received from non-black people. The only thing I could say is "thanks?" Because is that supposed to be a compliment? Are you telling me that black girls aren't pretty, but I somehow managed to defy the odds and be pretty? Because that is 100% offensive on so many levels. First of all, it's inherently racist, and it's not a compliment to me, and nowhere in that statement do I feel beautiful.
"You're pretty for a black girl." gave me a lot of issues growing up. First was the fact that I come from a mixed race family on both sides so I'm not even fully black, but I accept that's how the world views me. I am very proud of my British heritage as well though, and it offends me when people don't acknowledge such a large part of me. Not only that, but I always had to wonder; if things didn't work out with a guy who "really liked me" if it was because of my race. I dated quite a few guys who at one point said I was "pretty for a black girl" never introduced me to their mother, said they "really liked me" or even loved me, but never entirely went public. Then the blond hair blue eyed girls were seen everywhere with them. No, I don't think it makes them racist, but I do think it makes them cowards.
It's not just dating either; it seeps into working environments. I once worked at a cafe, and a friend came in a little before closing, Caucasian male. Once it was time to close I was joking with him and pushing him out the door. Then he turned to my boss and jokingly said "you see how she treats me?" and my boss, also a Caucasian male, replied with "you don't have to listen to her, she's just some little black girl." I and my friend both paused and my boss laughed and walked away. Even my friend said that his comments were messed up, as my boss walked away laughing. I reported him immediately and my hours were subsequently cut from 20 hours per week to 4 hours per week.
I don't think people take enough time to think about the consequences of their words. I had a friend who took a drivers ed course, and the teacher told her that she was the best female driver in the class. She told my brother and me this proudly, and my brother and I both told her "wow, that's messed up." She didn't get what was wrong with it; she was the best. Then we broke it down for her. There were about 30 students in the class, and there were only three females in the in the class. So, in the whole population, his compliment put her in the top of the bottom 10%. By not just saying she was one of the best drivers in the class and adding that qualifier, he diminished her accomplishment. Being number 1 out of 3 is meh, being number 1 out of 30 that's pretty cool.
I'm guilty of it too, I say some dumb things sometimes, but that's why I'm writing this to hopefully save some people some of the embarrassment and hurt that I've had to experience throughout the years. I could never count all the different ways people have tried to compliment me while adding a qualifier. Which in my opinion disqualifies any compliment you were aiming for, to begin with. Just like an apology to doesn't count if you say "I'm sorry, but...", a compliment doesn't count if you say "your pretty, for a..."
False words are not only evil in themselves but they infect the soul with evil