The 24-year-old spoke about her experiences in a tennis United video as she discussed the anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd.
“Everybody sees a black person and they assume that it’s Venus or Serena (Williams) or Sloane (Stephens),” said world number 73 Townsend.
I’ve been literally all of them down the list except for myself.”
She added: “I’ve had people argue with me to tell me that I’m Coco Gauff. I’m not Coco Gauff but all of us look the same, all of us are built the same.”
There have been widespread protests across the United States since Floyd, an unarmed black man, died last month after being pinned down by a white police officer.
Sixteen year-old Gauff, one of the rising stars in tennis, gave an emotional speech at a Black Lives Matter protest, saying she “demands change now”.
Fellow American Frances Tiafoe, the men’s world number 81, posted an Instagram video also featuring Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Gauff.
In the video, Tiafoe and girlfriend Ayan Broomfield put their request down and raise their hands to “spread awareness about the unjust deaths of many African-Americans”.
Townsend said: “Even from the aspect of, you walk through and nobody stops you, and I’m walking through and somebody has to check my bag, check my credential, check my coach’s bag, check my coach’s credential.
“It’s extra security, extra precautions that need to be taken to make sure that I belong.
“This is our reality. It happens all the time – week in, week out, every tournament that I play in the States, overseas, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s not going to change. Hopefully, this (Black Lives Matter protests) just creates a safe space and an awareness for people to want to talk about it.
“Not to be uncomfortable, not to cringe. To be able to be open-minded, understand and really kind of open your eyes, take yourself out of it and try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.