Think about the time when someone said something about some aspect of your identity that made you feel insulted or slighted even if they didn’t intend it you probably experienced a microaggression. A microaggression is something that someone says to someone else without knowing that it may be offensive. It hurts.That’s how I know it’s a microaggression because it feels disrespectful. And it’s not like outright racism but it’s something that is it is like almost unconscious in the way that you view people. Most microaggressions are subtle and indirect but they occur frequently in the daily interactions of members of historically underrepresented groups and most often people who commit microaggressions think of themselves as well-intentioned, non-racist, non-sexist people they do not realize that the underlying messages communicated by their actions or comments are hurtful to other people. One of my friends asked if my parents had their papers. I had a science teacher, a physics teacher, and he told me that I was the smartest black girl in his class I’ve been asked, umm, if I understood what they were talking about or like do you need any translations and stuff just based on my name. I’m like you know, I’m not the spokesperson for the whole black community you know but that’s one microaggression I do experience a lot like they want the black perspective and I’m usually the only black girl in the class so it’s like okay what what’s your take on this. Often time I get asked do you know how to speak your native language and when I answer I do, they’re like okay well what does ‘ching chong’ mean? There are three types of microaggressions microassaults, microinsults and micronvalidations. A microassault is similar to what we think of as overt discrimination in the case of microassaults those acts are intentional. I was a server for a long time and if anyone else was you know this the back of the kitchen like when someone gets a table of like say Indian people I hope this is PC I don’t know all the terms but Indian people or Black people or anyone they’d be like who wants that table I don’t want it they’re not going to tip and my heart would break every time. I used to be a server too and hated it because I was like the only person of any type of race other than white I remember coming in and be like oh Danielle, you know you get that table of raccoons and I was like what and they’re like yeah and then I would go and I’m like they’re black people and I was like wait is that what you call you call black people you call them raccoons? A microassault can be the deliberate posting of swastikas Confederate flags, racial slurs or epitaphs that are left on a blackboard in a classroom . I worked as a research assistant and so a while ago one of the new our new RAs when I when I was a few months into it came up to me and just mentioned that you know we’d known each other for months at that point you know you’re the ‘least scary black guy’ I’ve ever met you know in the way that I dressed the way that I talked the way that I speak I’ve kind of tailored that over the course of my education to be “non-threatening” I literally have like my keys in my hand like they’re obviously with me and I just like jingle them as I’m walking so that they know that I know that I’m there that we both know right here and I’m not trying to do anything stupid but on that note there’s also the stigma that like we’re aggressive and intimidating it’s sad you have to make sure you let people know you’re not a threat and that’s the objective one of my friends commented to me you said you know I don’t really even think you’re black you know you’re and I was like what I was like what do you mean he’s like I mean you’re smart you do your work yes you’re athletic but you do your work you’re smart so I don’t I don’t I really know if you’re black I was like I didn’t understand. It made me question who I was and if I was still a part of the culture. And that’s an example of microinvalidation and a microinsult. I’m going to talk about those a little bit more A microinsult is a comment that communicates the demographic group is not respected that that person is a slight exception to the stereotype it’s an insult even though the perpetrator thinks he has just rendered a compliment well here at UNT I’ve heard you’re so pretty for a black girl I feel like it discounts me as a person and then I feel like it discounts my race I feel like you can be pretty just because you’re a woman or you know or all black women are beautiful all people of color are beautiful just the same as people that are not people of color so for them to make that specific statement that’s what I’m like what made in you made you made you say that to me as if it were a compliment so another type of micro insult is when students in the classroom are dismissed or treated almost as if they’re invisible for instance in some of our sciences or engineering classes there are few women and professors often don’t call on those women I had one instance in a statistics based class where we were discussing something bell curve related and he presented a question and I don’t remember exactly what the answer was but I answered it and and he kind of doubted me any very condescendingly was just like oh okay well I mean like this is the best answer but I guess your answer could be right you know what we’ll ask it was a grad student he was like you know what we’ll ask dr. so-and-so and see what and see what he thinks the best answer is and there was no apology or anything he was just like oh yeah dr. dr. so-and-so said that yeah that was that was actually a really acceptable answer I was just like okay what else is is he going to doubt me on and when else am I going to be called out in front of 70 other 70 other people you know and have a weird exchange that makes the whole room quiet One of my science classes my teacher had asked what I wanted to do and I told the teacher that I wanted to be a psychiatrist and immediately they’re like that’s too hard for you maybe you should try a different field or have you ever thought about being a nurse being a nurse practitioner nurse practitioners in psychiatry make pretty well they make a lot of money too have you thought about that like why go to med school generally sometimes somebody might feel like they can’t make it you know and then when you continue to tell them that it does hurt you know I have a lot of professors tell me in my face that they were surprised that I was as good of a student as I was that I pay attention in class and that I participated when I asked why I said well you know you just come off as a troublemaker you have all these piercings and short hair and a girl with tattoos we just naturally assumed that you weren’t going to be any good another type of microinsult is when a professor says to students wow you speak really good English the message is the professor thinks I don’t really belong here or that I’m not really America Of course I speak good English I was born in the United States , but the professor sees a Latina or an Asian and makes the assumption that that person is foreign or at least that is what the what the target hears. What is the underlying message when somebody asked if you’re legal? That you don’t belong to this country. That you don’t belong. That’s right. We were walking into the gym once and I was a guest so I had to hand the person my ID and he was looking at my name and everything he’s like what are you and I was like well what are you asking, He was like what nationality are you. I was like okay I’m Lebanese, I’m Arab He’s like you’re not one those that blow things up are you…no offense though what kind of crazy stuff you ask someone like that you get what I’m saying I was just I was just really surprised like it’s totally blew my mind that someone would think that the assumptions I get the most is that I’m very academic and I’m very good at math when they assume stuff like that it makes me feel like they’re taking the individual out of who I am and just assuming that all the people who look like me act like me and it kind of makes me feel lesser of what I can do the teacher was asking if someone could translate something in Spanish because he was giving an example and he needed this one word to be translated in Spanish and and he just stared at me specifically when he was asking and he like I knew we were making eye contact because that after like I just stayed quiet because I was like I’m pretty sure there’s other people in this class that know Spanish but he just kept staring at me at some point like the rest of the class turned to look at me like waiting for a response and I was like I’m not going to give you guys an answer like this is not okay a teacher pulled me aside cuz they were doing something for Christmas like Toys for Tots or something and he had this bike, they had a bicycle they were going to give to the to the kids and you know he came up to me and was like hey and there’s, I need to switch out the seat from this bike and it seems like somebody like you would know how to how to do that so if you could just change it out for me that’d be great and so like oh okay sure you know not really thinking much of it and then later on I kind of thought to myself, that’s odd, why would he assume that I knew personally how to switch you know a bike seat, just like so I thought that was an odd kind of maybe a microinsult on the fact that he assumed just because I’m Latino that I’m good with my hands A microinvalidation is a comment or action that dismisses the experiences of historically disadvantaged group members microinvalidations can happen when for instance when a student is lamenting that she wishes there were more Latina faculty for instance and the students in the class start rolling their eyes or “Oh, come on get over it” and the professor goes along with the students instead of with the with the person who made the lament Another type of microinvalidation that we hear alot about today is being colorblind when people say I don’t notice you’re black I don’t notice you’re Latina. I don’t see color what does that mean how do you interpret that what are people saying when they say I don’t notice your race I don’t see color how do you interpret that They’re just trying to say that they’re not racist that they don’t look at that side of you and they just want to validate you as a person but it comes off wrong because it’s like your race is very much who you are as an individual in a lot of my many classes I have to do writing and it’s just professor seem to be like don’t want to hurt my feelings because I’m an international student so my english is not that good especially with my writing so they they they let me go easy like like I just feel like they have different expectations for international international students and just American students and like a lot of feedback I get from like my writings it’s just like not real meaningful cuz I just feel like this is try not to hurt my feelings try to like try to go easy on me but then by doing that I just feel like it it takes toll on like my development like my learning my writing what do you do if you are not the person who commits the microaggression as the professor what if someone else in the classroom commits it? what I usually do is like I name it when I hear it in the room a microaggression that a student says it may not be directed to a particular student but there are probably students in the room who will feel as if they have been micro aggressed against I will name that I think we’ve just had a difficult comment made that not everybody’s comfortable with what are people feeling in the room right now did anyone feel uncomfortable with that and then if there’s silence which there often times is because people aren’t comfortable about calling each other and things I will talk about what it is that I heard I will model the behavior of instigating a difficult dialogue and usually once I do that then people will come back the impact on students that can be harmful is that it creates an uncomfortable environment or climate it can be very stressful some of the research shows that it can effect people’s health because of the stress but I think it one of the big things is that you just don’t feel like you belong or are included and you know especially we were trying to create a campus where diversity is valued and where everybody feels included they get in the way of that goal just recently I caught myself making one and as soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized that I had made the exact mistake that I was just talking about like over generalizing to an entire group or class of people and I saw tears well up in her eyes and I said I’m so sorry I am absolutely positive that I have said something to hurt you and I think I know why but I would really like to hear from your perspective what just happened here so common microaggressions committed by faculty in the classroom include the following mispronouncing students names after they had repeatedly corrected you referring to students by the wrong pronoun calling on men while ignoring women in class discussions or calling only on white students and ignoring the students of color in your classroom scheduling tests or projects during religious or cultural holidays be aware of assigning projects that disregards socioeconomic status be aware of using heterosexist examples in class Professors give heteronormative examples atoms attract like males and females or there’s an assumption bring your you know with your girlfriend or bring your boyfriend you know the assumption that you’re heterosexual we make an assumption that heterosexuals are the normal people One of the biggest things is pronouns when it comes to transgendered people individuals because sometimes they’ll tell you hey I prefer these pronouns and when a person doesn’t choose to go by you know female pronouns or male pronouns it invalidates their person with the misgendering thing, everyone messes up okay if you do misgender me or someone else that’s trans or even someone thats just like apologize and move on don’t make the apology about yourself but just like say I’m sorry correct yourself and then move on don’t make it a constant thing though because we’ll pick up on that, just a side not As a faculty member you are responsible for the climate in that classroom. You the professor, the faculty member are responsible for every single person’s sense of belonging in that classroom you are responsible for every person’s opportunity to learn I think in a broader spectrum we have to get to know each other or just not make assumptions and people don’t realize that we are a lot more alike than we are different people say that for other people like you’re so black or you’re so mexican you’re so Asian and to me that that takes away from who I am as a person even though it groups and stereotypes me with other people and I don’t like when people do that it makes you feel like you shouldn’t be who you are you know it makes it makes you feel like they’re basically trying to tell you that you should be doing something else like they’re not able to accept you for who the person that you are the person you’re trying to show them that you are instead they’re just telling you like oh that’s you know that’s not right that’s not a good fit and I mean nobody wants to feel that way everybody wants to feel you know accepted for who they are no matter you know what situation they’re put in

MICROAGGRESSIONS IN THE CLASSROOM
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