13 Microaggressions Black People Deal With All The Time

Racism comes in many forms - and that includes insidious micro-aggression.
Derald Wing Sue, a professor at Columbia University who deals with the psychology of racism and anti-racism, summarized racist micro-aggression as “everyday insults, outrages and degrading messages to colored people” by people who are often not aware of their offensive nature Words or actions. Microaggressions can target members of any marginalized group, including the LGBTQIA + community, women and people with disabilities. Here we focus on those targeting the black community.
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Microaggressions are divided into three categories: micro-attacks, micro-attacks and micro-invalidations.
Micro attacks are the more obvious and deliberately discriminatory behaviors in which a cashier intentionally skips a black customer in line, tells a racist joke, or wears a T-shirt with a Confederate flag.
Micro-insults and micro-invalidations, on the other hand, are rather unconscious, unintentional and less obvious. Indeed, well-meaning offenders of micro-insults often believe that when they tell a black colleague that they are "articulated" they complement each other. An example of micro-invalidation is when a white person says they are "color blind" to racial differences (minimizing the struggles that non-whites struggle with due to their skin color), or trying to claim that racism is no longer an issue .
The cumulative effects of microaggressions over time can be detrimental to black people and other marginalized groups. (Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov via Getty Images)
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"It is a monumental task to get white people to realize that they deliver micro-aggression because it scares them," Sue told the American Psychological Association. "It attacks their self-image to be good, moral, and decent people to realize that they may have subconscious thoughts, attitudes, and feelings that harm people with color."
The perpetrator and even the recipient of the microaggression may try to wipe these comments off as if they weren't a big deal, but the cumulative effects of these interactions can be harmful to blacks, indigenous people, and people with mental and physical health. The stress of being exposed to these incidents over time is related, among other things, to depression, psychological trauma, anxiety and high blood pressure.
Below, the blacks share the microaggressions they have personally struggled with and why they are offensive:
1. When an airport gate agent asks why you're queuing for business class.
"I travel a lot as a wedding photographer and because of my frequent flyer status as an airline, I am upgraded most of the time and can fly in business class. Ticketing and gate agents always ask me if I am on the right line. They would like to draw my attention to this that I have a number of privileges. I am usually selected and asked if I am on a business trip. At first I said yes, but I noticed that I was the only one who was asked the most, especially if I was the only black person in the business area. Now I’m hearing myself wondering why they’re picking me out. ”- Joshua Dwain, wedding photographer
2. When someone tells you that you are so pretty that they don't even consider you black.
"Although the insult should be obvious here, the several well-meaning people who paid me this 'compliment' seemed to have no idea how insulting and hurtful it was. The idea that you can't be black and pretty at the same time is deeply rooted in this country. When I was growing up, every single example of beauty in the media and in my beloved books was white girls or women. Black people, especially those with hair like mine, have often been relegated to the role of best friend - if they have ever appeared on the show, in the movie or in the book. Nothing I have read or seen as an adult has told me that black is pretty. "- Laura Cathcart Robbins, author and moderator of the podcast" The only one in the room "
3. When people assume that you came to college for a sports scholarship.
“When someone as an alumni of a private university asks if I played basketball in college, it means that I was accepted for a sports scholarship instead of an academic basis. This is an assumption that all African Americans are athletic and attend college primarily through sports scholarships. I have never been part of a sports team and have attended my university on a partial scholarship. “- C. D., nurse
4. When a retail employee follows you through the store assuming you are going to shoplifting.
“When I shop in a store, like in a mall, and the seller keeps following me in the store and asks, 'Do you need help finding something? 'Asking once is okay because I understand the need for good customer service. However, it is a constant micro-aggression of blacks to be observed with the intention of crime. It is assumed that we steal or do not have the money to buy the clothes in the store. Every time I notice this behavior, I choose not to spend my money there. "- Erlanger Turner, psychologist and director of the research laboratory for racial and cultural experiences at Pepperdine University
5. Or if a retail employee immediately leads you to the store shelf.
"A few years ago, I went to Macy on 34th Street. I went to the Louis Vuitton department to find a gift for my mother. As soon as I came in, the seller greeted me and directed me to the store shelf without being asked. I was stunned. I didn't understand it just to realize that I was the only black customer who had entered the store and the only one who had no designer brands. I left the store immediately. After that I didn't even want to I got a present for my mother. I just looked around the window and finally went home. I talked to my husband and some friends about it, but I never really spoke about how it bothered me. "- Jan-Kristòf Louis-Mansano, School counselor
6. When people ask to touch your hair - or just do it without your permission.
"I was at a party where a white woman I had met several times asked if she could touch my hair (although she had never asked before). Before I could answer, she had both hands on my afro.
To be color blind means to ignore the humanity of my or a black person.
Renée Cherez, travel writer
It was done to draw attention to myself and to embarrass me. This woman grew up in the 70s and probably saw more Afros than I did, but she behaved as if Afros was a brand new concept. Second, she violated my personal area and touched me without my permission because she felt that she was right. This claim and this violation are racism. “- Valencia Morton, blogger at Millionairess Mama
7. When you feel invisible.
“White people have the amazing ability to ignore what is different from their norm. My presence was ignored in many white rooms for no other reason than the color of my skin. This is demoralizing at work and causes racial trauma. “- Renée Cherez, travel writer
8. When they say you have good hair because it is not diapered.
“This statement implies that good hair has hair that resembles Eurocentric characteristics. "Dirty" or "diaper hair" is not considered beautiful in the eyes of society and would not be called "good hair". "- C.D.
9. Or when they tell you that your hair is not "professional".
“Years ago, when I was working in a very business banking environment, I decided to cut my hair off. I wanted to start over and adopt my natural texture instead of submitting it to relaxation every month. I remember when my supervisor got wind of my hair cutting plan this weekend, she made a point to look past my desk and lean forward before saying, "I know you want to be an individual and." everyone loves your energy. But I don't think all hair will cut off here. It is not very professional. “She told me that it would not be accepted and possibly not even tolerated to appear as my authentic self - and my healthiest self. I cut my hair this weekend and quit a few months later. "- Ashley Simpo, author and content strategist
10. When people wonder how well you spoke.
"This statement implies that it is shocking that a colored person can not only articulate their thoughts, but can also have an intellectual conversation. This is an assumption that colored people are less educated than their colleagues." - C.D.
11. When a white person tells you that they don't see color.
"If you look at me and see no color, you deny my race experience and my existence. As a black woman, my race and my femininity are interwoven. I am both at the same time, all the time. To be color blind means to ignore the humanity of my or a black person. "- Cherez
12. If they expect you to be a spokesman for your entire race.
“The Black Lives Matter movement was discussed in a room with mostly white people, and I was the only black person. I was essentially signaled by another member of the group by equating all of my personal experiences with those of all blacks. The crazy part is that I only realized it when two other group members pointed it out after the meeting. This is a problem where we have become used to being "the other" that we will not recognize if we are no longer targeted. "- Kellan Mansano, social worker
13. If they speak to your white partner instead of you.
"'Let me show you around, sir.' I can't tell you how many times this statement was only made to my white friend when we were both looking for accommodation a little over three years ago, no matter that the down payment came from me - these brokers never failed to give him the first Shaking hands and looking for answers during the show. Even if he said, "Actually, you'd better talk to her about the length of the escrow or inspections, etc." they would still speak to him instead of me.
Sure, there was definitely some sexism involved, but many of my white, heterosexual homeowners were also shocked to hear how far it went. These brokers were clearly not ready for a black decision maker. "- Cathcart Robbins
Should You Respond to Microaggression?
Experts say that there are a few things to consider when deciding whether and how to respond to microaggression. (Photo: kupicoo via Getty Images)
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If you are at the receiving end of micro-aggression, it is ultimately up to you to respond to the crime or to ignore it. Educating a "fragile" white person about the mistake of their path requires some emotional work, for which BIPOC may simply not have the energy. Consider the following factors from Kyle Nadal, a psychology professor at John Jay College who developed a guide to responding to microaggressions, to decide whether to call him up or let him slip:
Will your physical security be compromised if you address it?
Will the offender be defensive and / or will this lead to an argument?
How will the call affect your relationship with that person?
If you ignore it, will you regret it?
If you let them off the hook, does that mean you agree with what they did or said?
There is no "right" way to respond. Some people might choose to make a joke or make a sarcastic remark or gesture, such as rolling their eyes, wrote Nadal. Some may share how they felt about the comment and explain why the offender is offensive. And others may have to release pent-up frustration by shouting. You have the right to feel agitated or hurt by microaggression. You just need to know that marking the offender as a racist is likely to trigger defenses and escalate the conversation into an argument, he added. For this reason, it can be helpful to focus on and call out the racist behavior rather than calling the perpetrator a racist.
Others may choose to turn micro-aggression back to the perpetrator to shed light on the absurdity and rudeness of their comment. The implicit bias trainer and educator Denise Evans, a black woman, said yes! Magazine writer Ruth Terry says when a white person tells her that she is "articulated," she says, "Thank you, you too." Then she asks the person why she called her "articulate" and suggests possible reasons, e.g. B. because she is a woman, a black woman or a New Yorker.
"And I'm literally waiting for an answer," she said yes! Magazine. “I give people back their micro-aggression and their implicit prejudices in a pretty box with a nice bow. I give it to you and wait for you to open it and tell me what you see. "
If you'd rather avoid confrontation, that's fine too.
"If someone chooses not to address the culprit, talking to your support system can help you deal with and process the events," said Lois Kirk, a licensed professional consultant.
If you are called to micro-aggression as white or other non-black allies, it is your duty to apologize, listen to the criticism, and be open to learning. It doesn't matter if you meant it well: your intentions are irrelevant. And if you witness micro-aggression, you can intervene to reduce black stress.
"Our color colleagues are constantly burdened with micro-aggressions and the associated stress," Rev. Carolyn Helsel told CNN. "That's why it's important that white people who don't work in the same stressful conditions can be brave and speak up so that we can all be as productive and fruitful in our work as we can."
The answers were easily edited for reasons of length and clarity.
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