Racism is still very prevalent in our society. We as a nation may believe that we have moved on from racism and that it is a thing in the past but if we are being honest with ourselves and honest with ourselves as a nation we can agree racism is something that is not completely out of the picture quite yet. Microaggressions are currently fueling racism as we speak. Merriam Webster defines microaggressions as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group”. It is common in our society and the reason for it is that you have uneducated people who blurt out something that they don’t necessarily mean to say and in reality it is awful what they say, and they don’t even notice that it can hurt someone tremendously. When someone makes a microaggression generally it is because they think they are being funny, or they just simply are not thinking about what they are saying. The person who makes the comment has no intention to hurt you but little to their knowledge it can hurt you in ways they can not imagine.
In the book Citizen An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine she documents examples of microaggressions that either she or her friends have experienced in the world and if you take the time to read the book you would not believe how uneducated some people sound with what they are saying to other human beings. One example Claudia Rankine used that struck me was when she said “And when the woman with the multiple degrees says, I didn’t know black women could get cancer, instinctively you take two steps back” (45). After reading that I was absolutely horrified, how can a woman who has multiple degrees not know that a black woman could get cancer. Humans are able to get cancer and by her saying she didn’t know black woman could get cancer it’s as if she is saying that she doesn’t think that black woman should be considered humans. It makes her think that she is on a higher level than the black woman. If I were there I would have told her off and told her how uneducated she sounds and make her realize what she was implying when she said that foolish sentence. We as humans have a responsibility to stick up for each other by saying the hard things that some people are to scared to say because we would want someone to stick up for us if we were in the same position that they were in. By taking a microaggression something the person says without thinking and probably means nothing by it and does not want to harm you and showing them how much it affects you, you show them how powerful words can be and how much they can harm someone by saying something that is absolutely foolish. When the person said she did not know that black woman could get cancer I don’t believe that it was her intention to dehumanize you but that is how it came off and by telling her about it, it could help change a person to think before they speak which is something we need in this world.
Some people may think that it is a lot easier to ignore the situation since the person probably did not mean anything by it. The problem is however that if you ignore it the first time then they will think that there is nothing wrong with what they said and will just continue to throw out microaggressions whenever they feel like it and eventually you won’t want to be near them anymore because they will be racist and they have no idea that it will bother you. “We need to practice using our skills and tools with others, and experiment with expressing our new views and speaking out when we disagree, instead of staying silent” (621).
We are equipped with a very powerful tool and that is the tool that we have a voice. If we disagree with someone or think that they are wrong we have the voice to put them in their place and put out the fire. Nobody wants to be that guy. The guy who tells people when they are out of place for something that they said but it needs to happen. In fact it is crucial for someone to speak out against what they said. When people hear this comment it could really hurt them and effect them unfortunately they are scared to speak out because if they speak out they fear that person won’t like them anymore or will make fun of them. That is why you need to be the person to speak out on microaggressions because if they don’t like you anymore or they do make fun of you then they truly aren’t your friends and honestly you shouldn’t associate with them anymore because then they are truly a mean person. Together we can help put out the fire that is microaggressions and stop something that affects a lot of people and help the bully realize that sometimes words can be very powerful.