Aggression we know but microaggression, what is this? Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.This can be seen in a party when food is being shared, the servers closely followed by the director of the party conspicuously and intentionally overlooking a particular table. While the guest(s) at the table called the attention of the servers and they ignore or give express excuse that they were instructed not to serve the table. It can be silent or very loud acts of discrimination or demeaning behaviors shown in different dimensions most especially towards a group that has been assigned a “tainted feature” to define them, it can be to a race, a sect or a group. This act can be disguised in praise! I.e. “Micro insults” – i.e. “You speak English so well despite coming from a backward part of the world”, “Micro assaults” – i.e. “Despite your size you unbelievably carry yourself fast but breathing so hard now” and finally “Micro invalidation” – “Everyone faces discrimination but blacks make it more of a racial problem!”. These are the three major forms and could be behaviorally and non-behaviorally expressed. Oftentimes, it is coming from the preconceived biases that one group of people has towards another group. It could even happen in a subculture i.e. A father walking out a fiancé of his daughter from his house on the first visit/ meeting because he belonged to a tribe negatively tagged. While we may seem sure of our beliefs because we’ve had past negative experiences but not allowing people to prove themselves is micro aggression or even when you meet someone that fits into a class of people you deem negative in a public sphere and you wouldn’t want to talk with him/her even when he’s actively engaging you in your most interesting topic – despite saying nothing is microaggression.
You can see that microaggression is very common and that there is a very high likelihood that you have engaged in it at one time or another. On the surface, we may think that we are just following a natural order even justifying the behavior as comfortable to us. You may also not be aware at all that you are hurling tiny missiles towards another person’s thoughts and mindset. However, what we should understand is the effect microaggressions can have on the person receiving them. Let us consider the impact of microaggression on a target like the growth and development of a child. It might not be immediate but it goes into long-term consequences, when (s)he will start to work, marry, have friendships, do startups, etc, the impact of microaggression may not be immediate but can be longer and crunching to the psychological well-being of the target individual(s). If you are having issues with self, self-esteem or concept etc. because of this microaggression or suspect that a friend or loved one is going through above, DON’T KEEP QUIET, help them seek psychological help immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement. Contact us 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084.
Adeyemo S. Oladotundun MSc, BSc
Reviewed by Olugbemi Olukolade