Why you need to stop asking these questions and learn about racial microaggression

microaggression

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Microaggression are everyday verbal, non-verbal and environmental snubs or insults. This isn’t necessarily intentional, however it communicates hostile, derogatory messages to target a person based entirely on their group, particularly their racial group. The result is that it can invalidate their identity and communicate they are a lesser being. This therefore suggests that they do not belong to the majority group in order to relegate them to inferior status and treatment. For this post I will be looking at it when prjected towards my own racial group.

There is said to be 3 forms of microaggression; Microassult, microinsult & microinvalidation.

Photo by Hian Oliveira on Unsplash

Non-verbal examples

Holding on to your bag when you see a black person

Being sat at the back of the restaurant away from the windows and everyone else

A black person being told they are being sensitive when someone says something racially offensive to them

Many studies have found that microaggression is more psychologically harmful than overt bigotry. The reason is because they are small and therefore overlooked and downplayed as harmless. This leads to the victim feeling a sense of self-doubt and isolation rather than justifiable anger and support from others.

Verbal examples

I am third generation British, London born and raised in the same area which has the second highest British Caribbean population in the UK (highest in London). Black Brits make up approximately 3% (1.9million) of the population. If you didn’t know, 1.1 million are based in London.

“But where are you actually from?”

This question I have been asked my entire life creating tis sense of “Alien in my own land” feeling. A West Indian would never agree I originate from there because I was born here. Yet being here I am always asked where I am “actually” from which is telling me I can’t belong here. The result is a sort of racially stripped identity, which is now my identity.

“But you look mixed race”

The continual refusal to acknowledge the intra-ethnic differences is beyond frustrating. In Jamaica there is a saying “Out of many, one people” this is a tribute to the unity of the different cultural minorities. There is no one look and that is in just one island let alone across the entire world.  

“You’re very well spoken”

Implying someone is not speaking their native language or that someone of their racial background has receive better education, considering their race. Both of which have negative connotations behind them.

Oppressive worldviews are reflected in these types of microaggressions. Unfortunately, they are observed in many other settings not to mention towards many other races and cultures. Research suggests that none of us are immune to inheriting the biases of our society. The challenge is that much of these are outside of the level of conscious awareness meaning some may unintentionally oppress and discriminate against others. If you ever find yourself accused of microaggression then it is important not speak on behalf of historically marginalised groups.

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Feature image : Photo by Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash

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