“Where are you from?”
I reply, “San Diego.”
This time, the asker has a slight lilt in his tone. He asks, “No, but where are you from?”
At this point, I understand what he implies – that I am not from America but rather an immigrant from Asia. I respond, “Well, my parents are from China.”
He replies with a perplexed look, “Really? I could have sworn you were from (fill-in-the-Asian-country).”
Microaggression can be defined in many ways, the one most common being a comment or an action that intentionally or unintentionally reinforces a stereotype. It was a term coined in the late 20th century, and one that has recently been gaining traction as the new “subtler” form of prejudice that can be aimed at any gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality.
Simply, it is inevitable for us humans to err. We make snap judgments and quick impressions about the people around us. Ever since my earliest memory, I have been asked the question of where I was from, and I simply can’t help but to take offense. But, the question was born out of a stereotype so ingrained into our society that I don’t wholly blame the asker but society itself.
Due to the recent spike in the use of the word “microaggression” being thrown around, I believe as though an over-sensitivity and misuse surrounding the term has been bred. Schools, most notably colleges, have been taking action to exclude books or topics from their curriculum that may be considered offensive or too conservative. By doing this, these schools have been coddling the minds of youth. Avoiding the problem won’t solve anything. A box of safety helps no one and hurts the ones in it. Don’t get me wrong, microaggresion needs to be dealt with and shut down. But, the victims of it also need to accept the reality that it is there and is not going away tomorrow. Shielding students from the harsh realities of the world is leaving them unprepared to speak up and defend themselves after leaving. Microaggression, verbal or written, is a symptom of prejudice and ignorance. It deserves to be faced head on, not shied away from.
Let’s face it, a perfect society is a lost cause. And, telling people “That’s racist” only quiets their mouth, not the bias in their mind. In order to truly change the mindset in our society, we need to tear up the roots of the stereotypes found in our modern-day media culture. This way, the microaggresion that is often bred out of an ignorance will be no longer.