All Voices Matter: microaggressions are not small

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

Microaggressions are used in our daily lives. Described as “a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype” that are countless examples used on a regular basis.

Maybe you’ve heard a few of these.

“You’re Asian, so you should be smart enough to answer this question.”

“You don’t act like a normal black person.”

“How can you be Mexican and not speak Spanish?”

“You’re really pretty for a dark-skinned girl.”

However, microaggressions aren’t always racial. They can be sexist as well.

“If he playfully hits you, it means he has a crush on you.”

“You can’t like that, you’re a girl/boy!”

“She’s probably angry because it’s that time of the month.”

They can also be transphobic, along with homophobic.

“He’s gotta be gay–no man walks like that.”

“That girl looks like a man.”

“Their voice is too deep/high. That can’t be a girl/boy.”

I’ll even admit that I’ve used these microaggressions when I was younger, but eventually learned how harmful it can be. When a person uses microaggressions, it doesn’t necessarily mean someone is racist, but rather they’re ignorant and there is always time to improve and learn from one’s wrongdoings.

HOWEVER. If you acknowledge that what you’ve said is offensive and stereotype-inducing but refuse to apologize and/or try to change yourself as a person, that’s where the problems begin. Saying these things isn’t some sort of funny joke as the oppression of minorities is not funny; neither is continuing to use microaggressions knowing their wrong.

Ignorance can always be reversed. That’s the power of being educated by not only your peers, but through self-education as well. If someone uses a microaggression, educate them about their errors. Tell them why it’s harmful. If they still don’t listen to reason, then you’ve done your part. Trying to stop such actions helps prove you want to put an end to a divisive society, regardless of whether you are successful or not.

Microaggressions further the stereotypes placed upon minorities, and create the ever-widening hole of division. It won’t happen in an instant, but putting an end to these microaggressions can help soften division.