Common Ground is an organization of affinity groups formed to spark discussions within the Davidson community, such as #ITooAmDavidson in the past. I attended their panel on microagressions on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 and thought its topic to be a relevant addition to my portfolio, given its focus on recognizing the struggles of others even when in a situation in which it may be easier to ignore the everyday trials of others.
To start, the Common Ground panel defined microaggressions for the audience. Put simply, microaggressions:
Are often not intended to be harmful;
Gain power from their cumulative effect; and
Usually communicate a larger social message.
Despite lack of ill-intentions, there is no reversal for your behavior. It is injurious to deny the force behind your words and the pain that can be left in their wake. Microaggressions can easily, and often do, come from parents and friends. They are usually far from being the first or last; through time, they become less “micro” and more “macro” as the burden of accumulation heightens.
The best thing you can do when you witness a microaggression is to acknowledge it. Call it out for what it is. Do not alienate the perpetrator, but rather correct their ignorance of what may have been intended as a compliment or a joke. Cancel culture is not an effective remedy for microaggresions; finding corrective resolutions is much more important.
To prevent microaggressions, research consistent modes of oppression and be mindful in what you say and do. It is not the job of minorities to educate you. When someone reaches out in an attempt to further inform you, receive their advice with graciousness because they were not obligated in any way to engage with you.
We cannot hate each other for how our parents treated each other; instead, we must grow and form a more mindful society. To those that say “you can’t fight stupid” in the face of ignorance, Uyen Nguyen ’20 rightfully replied that “everyone is capable of learning.”
This panel is not to say that you should be afraid to spread your thoughts and opinions, but rather that you should be willing to be corrected. You do not and cannot accept another person’s humanity if you do not acknowledge the ways in which they have been oppressed, systematically or otherwise. Once more, it is important to note that it should not be the sole responsibility of the minority to justify their own humanity. Herein lies the importance of allyship. Expose the embedded nature of racism in our society. Speak out when you see or hear injustice. Fight for what is right. Recognize that your commonalities do not equal shared experience with others. In the end, it is not a fight for who hurts more, but instead a fight for justice and equality. Use your privilege, whether it be your gender, race, sexuality, religion, ability, or wealth to provide recognition to others with regards to their daily battles.