Written by Andrea Sison and Rebekah Joe
Starting off with examples, Asian-American students being complemented to having really good English when it is their first language, defensiveness of people when seeing black men, women being cut off conversations by men. These examples may be simple and common but these are actually microaggressions. Although many perceive taking offense by these actions as being overly sensitive, these open up discussions on how much societal ideas truly are integrated into everyday life. Microaggressions happen when people use biases of groups on a person leaving them offended or uncomfortable. These are the common everyday instances of racism, sexism, and more. It can be an insult, a comment, or a gesture. They are subtle, intentional, but oftentimes unintentional ways to communicate to someone with some sort of bias.
Microaggressions are something more than simple jokes and remarks. Microaggression actions come from concepts made in relation to a person’s membership to a marginalized group. Microaggressions were coined because of the insults that were thrown at Black individuals. It then started to be used on other minorities as well.
Although these are called “micro” aggressions, the consequences aren’t small. The frequent occurrence of these can be related to people not realizing that they are taking part in microaggressive rhetoric. Many simply act because of internalized bias. A theme that most have trouble with is color blindness, this is when people refuse to acknowledge race. Although many can see this as a good thing, it really is not that great. This is especially seen with adopted Asian kids with non-Asian parents. “There is only one race, the human race.” “When I look at you, I don’t see color.” Being denied one’s race can also mean being denied one’s culture. When race is disregarded, an identity is not let to be identified. Also, a consequence of this is that when this mindset is set in a family with an adopted kid, not from the same race, then this singles them out. Mostly, this mindset of having no race is just applied to family, once faced with others, race is suddenly a real concrete concept that they base their schemas on. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain, the one that stated the Atlanta shooter to only be having a “bad day” and has been found sharing racist things on his Facebook, has an adopted Vietnamese brother.
Since this is mostly an unconscious action, one cannot be truly blamed for practicing this. Although this cannot be dismissed. If something says or does something racist and makes you feel uncomfortable then it is what it is, a bad act is a bad act. A step of action is being aware of your personal bias and impact. You can also commit to working on how to minimize the concept of microaggressions. Another way is to establish relationships with others to learn more about their personal stories and cultures. The more we know about different stereotypes, the more your preconceived wall ideas are shattered, and the less you stereotype others. Microaggressions can take a toll on the mental health of the recipients of these microaggressive actions. It can make the school or work environment of the people more hostile as stereotypes integrated more in everyday conversations. The constant stream of insults, even if they are subtle, can add up and greatly affect an individual and lead to unjustified treatment.
Microaggressions encompass many concepts, insults can be based on race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. Microaggressions are made by everyone and are directed to everyone. Let’s take initiative to take responsibility for our actions and rethink the way we think about others, especially with microaggressions.
Chung, Nicole. “What Would My White Family Think about Anti-Asian Racism?” Time, March 22, 2021. https://time.com/5948949/anti-asian-racism-white-adoptive-family/.
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Jenée Desmond-Harris. “What Exactly Is a Microaggression?” Vox. Vox, February 16, 2015. https://www.vox.com/2015/2/16/8031073/what-are-microaggressions.
Limbong, Andrew. “Microaggressions Are a Big Deal: How to Talk Them out and When to Walk Away : Life Kit.” NPR.org, June 9, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/08/872371063/microaggressions-are-a-big-deal-how-to-talk-them-out-and-when-to-walk-away.
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