Microaggressions Aren’t So Micro
Most of us by now have heard the term “microagression.”
In case you’re still not sure exactly what that means, it’s the everyday, subtle interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias against or invalidation of marginalized groups.
Common microaggressions are when a white person asks to touch (or actually touches without asking) a Black person’s hair. Or when a woman clutches her purse as a Black or Latino person walks by. When a store owner follows a Black customer around while shopping.
Or crossing the street when a person of color approaches.
Complimenting non-whites on their use of “good English.” Discouraging students from working on projects that explore their ethnic or racial identities.
Telling successful Black people they’re a “credit to their race.” Oh, if I had a dollar for every time that last one was said to EVERY one of my successful Black friends.
Then there are non-verbal microagressions, such as when someone intentionally won’t sit next to a person of color on a subway or bus. When a restaurant server takes his time to wait on a Black family.
Even the use of “All lives matter” is a microagressive response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It invalidates the movement’s call for Black lives to simply be accorded the same rights and respect as whites when everyone knows darn well the phrase Black Lives Matter was never about saying other lives DON’T matter.
These are just a few examples.
Much (but not all) of the time, microaggressors aren’t intentionally trying to do any harm.
They simply don’t realize their actions are a result of unconscious or implicit bias — that is, bias that is outside the perpetrator’s level of awareness.
A lot of these microaggressions don’t sound like a big deal to some. Like, OK, they aren’t fun, but it’s not like they are outright discriminating against people. Or preventing them from excelling.
But research says otherwise.
Studies show that this sustained, subtle racism can contribute to poor health among…