“Where are you from?”
“I guess you wear the pants in the family.”
“You won’t have the natural authority to be a school administrator, so maybe you should think about a different career path.”
Perhaps you’ve heard the term microaggressions and wondered what it means. Maybe someone has brought it to your attention at work when speaking about the systemic barriers that marginalized groups face and you’ve thought, “Really?” I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought it was some new, trendy term. I woke up after Shakil Choudhury explained it. This video clip helped: How Microaggressions are Like Mosquito Bites – Same Difference
This term resonates with me, even though there are a few research and scientific criticisms of it. While the anti-racism and civil rights movements have gained some momentum, there’s still so much work to be done. Systemic racism exists in our society.
If we deeply examine our thinking, we can see that every single one of us is biased and conditioned to believe things about groups of people. This might come out in our inner opinions about others or even in the casual remarks we make. We may not intend to hurt others, but the reality is that our words can really sting. They can give the subtle message that you don’t belong. That you’re not good enough. That you are “other”.
Changing this is hard. As with everything, the first step is a willingness to hold the mirror up to ourselves and understand our biases. That’s difficult work, but so worth it. Engage a friend who is willing to be honest with you. Listen to others’ reactions to what you say. Try not to be defensive.
I’m still on this journey and I’m sure I make mistakes. What about you? Have you experienced microaggressions?