About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1375 |
7 min read
Published: Feb 8, 2022
Words: 1375|Pages: 3|7 min read
Sometimes the largest wounds don’t come from the biggest attacks. Subconscious racial behavior is not a new concept, racial bias has been affecting people for centuries. Instances of subtle racist interactions can be described as racial microaggressions. These are “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” (Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D).. People who deliver these insults regularly often have no foundation to their aggression and exclusively base their attacks on the victim’s race in lieu of personal character. Targets of these aggressions are typically African-American, however other ethnic groups receive similar amounts of bigotry, with equally harmful stereotypical projections, and unlike blatant racism which incites violence in almost every instance, racial microaggressions result in more psychological damage. Microaggressions can be caused by prior assumptions of a person based on racial stereotypes, whether they be negative or positive. So what are the consequences of racial microaggressions? Racial microaggressions cause mental trauma and psychological distress that can cause a mental block for them. Because of how commonplace these attacks are, they can often lead to health problems for the victims.
Racial microaggressions are prevalent during student interactions on campuses across the country with peers and professors. One might believe that someone with much authority and experience such as a professor would be more cautious and wise when it comes to racial presumptions, however this is not always the case. In a research done by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, several professors and specialists documented student accounts of their own professors using race as the base of jokes. One student reported an incident where she couldn’t understand the concepts being taught and asked the professor to slow, in response the professor made a distasteful joke to the entire class saying ‘Hey everyone, I guess I have to slow down for the Chinese girl’. In this instance, the professor felt that the class would be comfortable with stereotypes being used to jokingly respond to a student’s request. Many instances of these incidences are caused by highly trained authorities such as professors, meaning one can not be certain that the people they interact with have prejudices. Students also receive direct microaggressions from peers, such as students with Arabian heritage being discriminated against because they don’t match the stereotypical skin color of their race. With these examples and stories of how often students receive subtle racial comments, it is clear that there are not many safe spaces for students to avoid discrimination, given that even trained professionals can let out these comments subconsiously.
Because of how common these interactions are, students will often experience mental blocks that affect their health and academic success. School can already be stressful enough for many hard working students, adding racial assaults to the mix can have an even stronger effect on the student. In a survey done by researchers at Columbia University, it has been found that racism is linked to mental health conditions such as anger and depression, and it can cause unhealthy behaviors like overeating. There is clearly a correlation between receiving racial microaggressions and having health problems. Experiencing any type of racism is quite traumatic, however microaggressions are especially harmful because they usually come from fellow peers who are ignorant to the impact their actions have. That being said, these instances of microaggressions have a lingering effect on a person, because they are so subtle and frequent throughout the school day, they continuously harm a student’s mental state. Such discrimination can cause “fear, resentment, anxiety, helplessness, isolation, stress, and exhaustion”. These symptoms can leave the victim unmotivated to accomplish anything, resulting in an inescapable cycle of solitude and feeling powerless to improve their situation.
Students and professors may exert and perceive racial microaggressions in different ways. When it comes to professors, not all of their microaggressions are vocal, their actions will often show bias towards certain races. For example, an African American student felt that he was not called upon when he raised his hand and refrained from trying to again. This situation shows how professors exert microaggressions in different ways than students. They can belittle students of color by denying them the chance to participate in class discussions and ability to learn through inquiring on things they are unsure about. Not only does this hinder the student academically, it also creates a dangerous learning environment that punishes growth and curiosity. Professors can also be ignorant to the fact that they are being racist towards students. In one instance, a student mentioned that they had visited South Asia recently, and the professor asked them if they had ridden an elephant simply because the student was from that area. While this remark isn’t entirely insulting, it does show that some professors don’t exactly know when they cross certain boundaries. This isn’t exactly a comment a professor should make in front of a class no matter how mild they think it is, a student will always feel some level of discomfort with these kinds of remarks. On the other hand, students who participate in microaggressions often make their peers feel as though they don’t belong, such as White students doubting their African American peers when they express intellectual remarks during class discussions. This is a much more assertive approach to microaggressions. While professors make more general statements about a person’s race, students often isolate victims by displaying rude behavior and comments towards that person. Such as in this example, the African American student was judged by the White students because of his demonstration of intelligence. If the student showed the opposite however, they might have received no attention at all by the White students because it would be deemed as “typical” behavior for a student of color. So the overarching theme here is that students tend to be more specific about their racial attitudes than professors, perhaps due to them interacting with their peers more frequently.
There are several ways for both the assaulter and victim to remedy the issue of racial microaggressions. Although a victim should focus on processing these attacks and learning how to help themselves, there are ways they can prevent these incidents from happening again. Instead of staying silent about their discomforts an individual may act in an assertive way. This may include calmly addressing the perpetrator about how it made him or her feel. This may consist of educating the perpetrators, describing what was offensive about the microaggression. Although it may seem hard for the victim to take action on it, they are still able to help themselves and the perpetrator. By being upfront about how they feel with the aggressor, they can make it clear to them that what they are doing is inappropriate and harmful. Of course, it is important to figure out ways to teach the assaulters about how to become more sensitive and open minded to the people they are hurting, such as providing workshops or ethics classes. On top of this, students and employees should participate in better health care training programs to provide a safer environment for everyone on campus, they have to learn what kind of impact and damage their microaggressions cause (Torino). By becoming more aware of their actions, it becomes easier for them to avoid making other students feel uncomfortable. In the process, they can also contribute in creating a safe place for students to interact and learn without having to worry about being discriminated against.
In summary, microaggressions are harmful statements or attitudes towards certain ethnic groups. These attacks are prevalent in today’s society, and can have damaging mental repercussions among students, causing psychological distress. While different demographics perceive these aggressions differently, it is clear that they are destructive and should be remedied, by both victim and aggressor. With the help of workshops and health care training, a safe environment can be created among school campuses, allowing for students to prosper emotionally and academically. If actions are taken, society as a whole can benefit from the introduction of new open minded individuals who are willing to work with their peers instead of isolating them. Overall, starting a movement to reduce microaggressions can prove to be the progress that the world sorely needs.
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