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Microaggressions- What is it?

Definition of microaggression from Merriam-Webster dictionary: a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.


In the above examples from poster, what sounds like an innocent comment can have underlying message as follows

  •  In the context of talking to any person of color, say, a Japanese American or a Mexican American, “Oh, you’re American? But where are you really from?”  Could actually mean “You don’t seem like you belong here, so where are you really from?”
  • In the context of talking to an immigrant or an international student, “I am surprised that you speak good English!” could be a compliment but it brings out an assumption that a person whose first language is not English is bound to speak improper English.
  • “You’re not like the rest of them. You’re different.” This brings out the prejudice the person has towards a particular group of people.

Some other examples are

  •  “You don’t look queer.”- Meaning queer people behave differently.
  •  “Are you bipolar? You look normal though.”- Meaning people with mental disability cannot function normally.
  • “You are Asian. You must be good at math.”- Meaning, all Asians are intelligent.
  • “You’re very pretty for a dark skin girl.”- Meaning, dark skin is not beautiful by default.

Often, these comments come from well-intentioned individuals who are unaware they are saying anything offensive. Since this is not an open act of discrimination or racism, it makes harder to address microaggressions although they are very prevalent.

Martin Luther King had said, "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." This presentation intends to make you aware of the microaggressions we may all have experienced and/or unintentionally/intentionally perpetuated. We will learn of ways to stop and think before saying/doing anything that might harm others even if it's in the slightest way possible. This event is a safe place to express your thoughts and experiences.

Given the ever-growing diverse community in our K-State campus and community, it is a need to deal with differences/prejudices and train our minds for all the complex views of the world.


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