Here is a question that many people that belong to ethnic minorites ask:
How do I fight microaggression?
- Acknowledge the microaggression and name it.
- Speak up and stand up for yourself and/or others.
- Take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing.
- Educate yourself and others about microaggressions and their effects.
- Connect with supportive people and build community.
- Take action by advocating for change.
- Develop resilience and practice self-compassion.
Acknowledge the microaggression
If you are an expert in psychology then probably you can name it. Most of us are not trained well enough. Microaggressions are subtle slights, behaviours and hints of a negative attitude to ourselves. They are related with unconscious bias behaviours and passive aggressive behaviours. I told you that I am not a psychologist. Microaggressions though are closely related to microexpressions. The brain, or rather the amygdala, does not lie it will transmit the chemicals throughout the nervous system and these doubts, fears and anxiety will present as attitudes, power, influence and superiority over another human being.
Speak up and stand up for yourself yourself and others
Again if you are fortunate to see a microaggression like a “put down”, unfair “calling out” and plain outright exclusion then you are fortunate. Are you willing to object in the circumstance? Are you willing to defend that other person? What if it is you that is falling under microaggression? Who do report microaggressive behaviour to?
I identify as Black British. As a child of the Windrush generation, am I well aware of racism and prejudice that my parents face when they first migrated from the Caribbean to Britain in order to help the workforce. Sadly, in the 21st Century, I have witnessed microaggression all too often.
Take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing
My issue with advice is that you may not be aware that your spirits and daily wellbeing are being gently eroded. The problem with microaggression is its subtle wording and/or vocal pronouncements. If a person is subjected to this behaviour, then it is a form of abuse and coercion.
Educate yourself and others about microaggressions and their effects
I find this a bit like victim-blaming. It is the fault of those people who are subject to abuse. Whereas the person making the microaggressive behaviour is the one who requires education. Often those persons deny that they are being coercive. How can an aggressor temper their flawed behaviour and educate others when they do not deny it?
Connect with supportive people and build community
I agree 100% with this piece of advice. The issue is that lots of people do not know they are at the effect of microaggressive behaviour in the workplace, or at home. (What are example for home, I heard you ask? The wife is very unhappy about her body, dress size and looks. She wants to lose weight and she quickly starts a fitness program in the evening. The husband displays his contempt by often stuffing his face with pizza and beer during the evening meal. Even though he does not verbalise his internal complaint, the husband is not empathic and is unsupportive to his wife.)
The idea that an individual should by themself build a community is ludicrous. Often there are other folk out there who are strangers. How do you know if that group is a set of nutters [nutty as a fruitcake] or not? In other words, it is not easy to network.
Take action by advocating for change
If you are lucky enough or fortunate to be in a leadership role, you can direct, gentle nudge a forward plan. You are the moment where you can put in safeguards whether you have approval from the senior management or not. You are in charge of their future. Your team are the workers, the people that make things happen. You need to support them in their goals. You will do that, unless you are one with the microaggressive behaviours.
Sadly, the microaggressive personal behaviours are not reading this blog. They are blithely carrying on making their subjects (victims) time on this Earth miserable. They are continuously displaying power and influence and sustaining toxicity. Eventually their time will run out, but it will be your organisation that suffers in the end, when the good people fly the nest. There goes your competitive advantage in a nutshell.
Develop resilience and practice self-compassion
I sort of agree with this advice especially in the initial stages of abuse. I believe as soon as person discovers microaggressive then they have to stop it as quickly as possible. The longer microaggression goes on, the more traumatic its effect will be on the victim.
Your thoughts are welcome
“Armed with the knowledge of our past, we can with confidence charter a course for our future. Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle. We must take hold of it and forge the future with the past.” Malcolm X
“People seem to think that I’ve done this fantastic thing and how wonderful I am and how brave I am. If only they knew that it’s not as easy as people think, that life has been difficult.” Baroness Doreen Lawrence (reference)
“Power never takes a back step – only in the face of more power. ” Malcolm X