An explanation about Microagressions:
Too often as black and brown people, a white person after interacting with us may leave us feeling hurt and or offended. We don’t understand why we are offended, but we know we are. Conversely, a white person may not intend to offend a black or brown person by some off-handed comment that was made, but the offence has already been committed.
How do we understand, in particular, white people that they need to temper themselves and be mindful when dealing with black and brown people?
I have explained in detail what microaggressions are so they can be dealt with when they occur.
Microaggressions are divided into three categories.
There are micro assault, micro insult and micro invalidation.
Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicates hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults toward people of colour. Perpetrators of microaggressions are often unaware that they engage in such communications when they interact with black and brown people.
A microassault is an explicit racial derogation characterized primarily by a verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behaviour, or purposeful discriminatory actions; referring to someone as, “Oriental,” using racial slurs, discouraging interracial interactions, deliberately serving a white patron before a black or brown person, and displaying a swastika as an example.
Microassaults are most similar to what has been called, “old fashioned” racism conducted on an individual level.
They are most likely to be conscious and deliberate, although they are generally expressed in limited “private” situations hence the word (micro) that allow the perpetrator some degree of anonymity.
In other words, people are likely to hold notions of black and brown inferiority privately, and will only display them publicly when they either lose control or feel relatively safe to engage in a microassault.
A microinsult is characterized by communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity.
Microinsults represent subtle snubs, frequently unknown to the perpetrator, but convey a hidden insulting message to the recipient of colour.
When a White employer tells a prospective Black candidate, “I believe the most qualified person should get the job, regardless of race: or when a black or brown person is asked “How did you get your job?” the underlying message from the prospective employer to the recipient may be twofold: 1. Black and brown people are not qualified, and 2. as a black or brown person you must have obtained the position through some affirmative action.
Hearing these statements frequently when used against affirmative action makes the recipient likely to experience them as aggressions.
Microinsults can also occur nonverbally, as when a White teacher fails to acknowledge students of colour in the classroom or when a White supervisor seems distracted during a conversation with a Black employee by avoiding eye contact or turning away.
In this case, the message conveyed to persons of colour is that their contributions are unimportant.
Microinvalidations are characterized by communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiences of a person of colour. When a black or brown person is told you are well-spoken, you’re not like the others or when Black or brown people are told “I don’t see colour” or “We are all human beings,” the effect is to negate their experiences as racial/cultural beings.
When a black or brown person experiences bad service and shares their experience with White friends, only to be told “Don’t be so oversensitive” or “Don’t be so petty,” the racial experience is being nullified, and let me assure you that black and brown people do not go looking for these incidences, it just happens and more often than not it happens when often black and brown people aren’t even aware that it happened. All they know is that they are left feeling uncomfortable, and unless they are familiar with the term microaggressions they may not have a word for it.
Let’s put it this way if you’re unaware that you are standing on my toes am I not meant to let you know you’re hurting me or do I happily accept the pain so you don’t feel uncomfortable or embarrassed?
There is a need to understand racism as a system and to live consciously because living consciously encourages us to treat one another in a manner that doesn’t offend or insult.
You don’t have to say everything that comes into your mind. It’s only appropriate when you are a toddler.
The rule of thumb is if you don’t tell your white colleague or friend that they’re well-spoken; don’t say it to a black or brown person.
Your hair looks lovely is a compliment; touching a black person’s hair and asking, “how do you get your hair like that?” is not.”
When we live consciously it is understood that we are mindful of hurting other people that inhabit the same space we do.