I was once invited to a house party at a friend's house and in the course of her introducing me to the other ladies in attendance she said "Niecy comes from a working class family like me....". I remember being caught so off guard and smiling oddly. Not only was she completely wrong in her assumption about my family's background, I wondered if she had introduced the other ladies making an assumption about their class in their biography? What point was being made by talking about my family's background, even if not completely mistaken in doing so?
That was over 5 years ago and while no one at that party probably even caught on to it, it has stuck to me ever since. I remember exactly what I was wearing, where I was sitting, aware of all my senses in that moment. That's what microagressions are. They fly by the person handing them out while clinging to the person being transgressed on like a little sucky leech trying to remind you "this is what society really thinks about you".
They are sneaky. Seemingly small. Yet they speak volumes about the person speaking them.
They are the little things; subtle statements, interruptions and assumptions, that all add up to make you feel small.
I've certainly been heightened since this incident and I have to admit, it's not the first and last time they have ever slipped in a microagression in speaking with and/or about me. Even me, in all my social justice fervor, find it hard to call people out on this because they are supposed to be your friends, right?
So how to we address microagressions with our friends? We can all heal from a tiny thousand cuts but we can't always be responsible to self heal from the wounds, no matter how tiny or subtle they are. It can be challenging especially when the person who offended with the microagression most likely has no clue what they've done. So in addressing microagressions be thoughtful of your talk. When someone says you've offended them, instead of being defensive, be quiet and listen.
My sister and I sell Scentsy at a festival in the mountains twice a year. One time, I was sitting in my chair, minding my business, in my natural hair glory and a woman walked up to me in what I believe she believed was a sympathetic voice and asked "oh darling...where are you from"? Me, highly annoyed as I knocked her uninvited hand that was reaching out to touch my hair blankly replied "Albuquerque". She persisted, leaning closer to my face and said "no, but where are you originally from"? I know it was the Blood that saved me in that moment because I was highly annoyed, offended, and pissed off.
Get it. Be more thoughtful. Shutup and listen. Do your work to be confident in yourself so you don't have to tear others down. If you just can't seem to stop laying out the microagressions, then Crazy Eyes has already told you how I feel.