Innocent black men have been gunned down or asphyxiated on public streets by police officers. Marathon runners in Boston were killed or maimed by terrorists intent on giving “payback” to Americans. One in four college females has survived rape or an attempted rape.
With troubling scenarios such as this making headlines across America, it seems that the microaggressions mentioned in this issue’s Spotlight, “I, too, am Upper Arlington,” are minor transgressions that should be ignored or pushed aside. But these microaggressions share the same foundational underpinnings as the more violent examples mentioned above. They share the core belief that one race or ethnicity is implicitly superior to another. They are both manifestations of stereotypes about those different from ourselves; the only difference is the degree to which these manifestations are expressed.
With this in mind we need to not feed into the racism, even on the lowest levels. When microaggressions are said by one friend to another, the result will most likely end in a chuckle. However, when random strangers ask questions that are obviously offensive, the result is far from a happy face. It’s blatant ignorance; to make someone feel self-conscious because of his or her color, religious practices or stereotypical habits is out of control, despite context of a friendly environment or not.
It all hurts; whether Arabs are assumed to be terrorists, Jews implied to be thieves, or African Americans presumed to be drug-dealers, no person is in a position above another based on a stereotype. It only takes one ignorant opinion to serve as a hit to the heart.
So just don’t do it; it doesn’t have to hit the headlines to be deemed an important issue. The media doesn’t decide what’s wrong, the people do. And as people, we need to see microaggressions in our speech and actions and be sensitive to how they not only affect the other end of the conversations, but our reflection as a society at large.