The Innovator

Innovation Academy Charter School's Student-Run Newspaper

Microagressions

Microaggression– a subtle, intentional or unintentional hostile, derogatory, or racial slight directed toward a person of color. Although they’re a relatively new concept in the field of racism, microaggressions can also discriminate against religion and other dividing factors.

I grew up knowing about race and seeing everyone as equal––it is how my mom raised me. As I grew older, though, I found race to be more prevalent in my everyday life. I would hear phrases such as “That’s because you’re black,” or “That’s a white people thing” when describing someone’s achievements or actions. Phrases like this always frustrated me because it’s unfair to link a person’s achievements or actions with a person’s race or background. In my opinion, people of different racial backgrounds may have been raised a different way than me, but that never gave me a reason so say, “Oh, that’s because you’re this.” I always have worked not to offend people, but when I found out about microaggressions, I was shocked about how they leak into my everyday life.

As I learned more about microaggressions, I became aware of my own unintentional racial slights. I constantly found myself saying things such as, “Where are you really from?” or “Well you’re going to get significant loans because of your race,” or “I am not racist, my friend is black and my neighbor is Indian.” Microaggressions are everywhere, and I don’t think anyone is aware of them or their effects on the person receiving the message. I for one wasn’t.

These slights can be very degrading to a person, even if they are meant to be a compliment. For example, saying something like “You are a credit to your race” or “You are so beautiful, for a dark skin” that may be intended as a compliment, can hurt a person because there is this hidden message that they are not supposed to be smart or beautiful because of their color.

Asking someone what their ethnic background is can also be demeaning. It is okay to recognize someone is of a color, but to ask them about it is different.

Think about it: If every time you walked into somewhere, someone asked you, “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” it might get annoying or even hurtful. I would imagine thinking, “Wow, do I really stick out that much? Is it really that obvious I am not from here?”

Yes, your curiosity may be peaked, but it is not your right to know everyone’s heritage. It is also not fair to make assumptions due to these different racial backgrounds.

    Microaggressions are relevant, they do exist, and they are all around. The importance of learning about microaggressions is it will hopefully help limit your usage of them. They may not affect everyone the same way, but they can make others feel ashamed of their heritage, and that is not changeable.

Microaggressions was a new term for me, but also a relative new concept in the field of racism. It was not really used until about 10-15 years ago. In my own words I would describe a microaggression as subtle, intentional or unintentional hostile, derogatory, or racial slights directed to people of color–microaggressions can also discriminate against race, religion,etc. The question I had was are microaggressions relevant to the community of IACS and/or society as a whole, and how can/do they affect people?

    I always grew up knowing about race, but seeing everyone as equal–it is how my mom raised me. As I grew older I found race to be more prevalent. I would always hear phrases such as “…that’s because you’re black,” or “…that’s a white people thing.” Phrases like this always frustrated me because is is not because that person is a different color. In my opinion people of different racial backgrounds may have been raised a different way than me, but that never gave me a reason so say “Oh, that;s because you’re this.” I always have worked not to offend people, but when I found out about microaggressions I was shocked on how true and relevant they are.

    I constantly found myself saying things such as, “Where are you really from?” or “Well you’re going to get significant loans because of your race,” or “I am not racist, my friend is black and my neighbor is Indian,” and so on. Microaggressions are everywhere and I don’t think anyone is aware of them or their effects on the person receiving the message, I for one wasn’t. These slights I perceive as very degrading to a person. It is okay to recognize someone is of color, but to ask them about their personal background is different can be demeaning. Yes, your curiosity may be peaked, but it is not your right to know the heritage everyone has. It is also not fair to make assumptions due to these different racial backgrounds.

    These are relevant, they do exist, and they are all around. The reasoning of learning about microaggressions is to limit your usage of them. They may not affect everyone the same way, but they can make others feel shameful of their heritage–something that is not changeable.

On Tuesday, May 5, Julia Crane ‘15 shared her Senior Project research about microaggressions with the high school community during advisory. Crane submitted this op-ed to The Innovator to continue spreading the word about the importance of recognizing microaggressions in everyday life.

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<a href="https://theinnovator.org/byline/julia-crane/" rel="tag">Julia Crane</a>

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