February, though the month of love, is also Black History Month. It is a time to reflect on how far we have come as a society with being accepting of African-Americans and people who are generally different. However, it is also a time to consider how far we still need to go. Racism is a social system that many of us participate in indirectly. When we see inequality, racism and prejudice behavior, even when they are shown through microaggressions, and we refuse to speak up about, we have helped to perpetuate that inequality.
It is, however, impossible to speak up about inequality when we do not know what it is exactly. Inequality is the unequal treatment of particular people based on superficial characteristics about them, especially those that they are unable to change. This article will specifically discuss the different types of prejudices and how to recognize them by their microaggressions.
Microaggressions are seemingly harmless statements and actions that subtly work to perpetuate negative stereotypes about a group of people. This could be in the form of jokes or covert actions that the sayer or doer is not even aware of.
This may be the most famous one, especially during February. Racism is when people are treated differently because they are a different race. Systemic racism is when laws are put in place to make sure that certain people cannot advance in society.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate racism include:
- Seeing something that is ill-mannered or overly-aggressive and saying “That is so black”
- Attributing particular genres of music to particular races and excluding others from that genre
- Rap is black music Iggy Azalea cannot participate
- Country is white music and K. Michelle cannot participate
- Saying “You speak like a white person” when a black person, or non-white person, speaks properly.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate sexism include:
- Telling guys that they are acting like girls when they show emotion
- Telling women that they are overreacting because of their hormones or menstrual cycle (especially if sayer is completely unaware of the women’s menstrual cycle)
- Blaming women for sexual assault because of their choice in clothing
- Not taking men’s sexual assault claims seriously because they are men
- Assuming that men and women could not do certain things because of their gender
Ageism is when people are treated differently on the basis of being a certain age. Recently, the age group that has been getting a lot of hate are millennials, born between 1980 and 1995.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate sexism include
- Infantilizing Millennials (making people view them as children or infants when they are adults). Saying things like “These kids today” when talking about millennials.
- Assuming that because of someone’s age, they will not know about certain topics or how to do certain things
- “You’re 21, what do you know about love?”
- “You’re like 50, do you even know how to use a smart phone?”
- Refusing to consider applicants for a job or program who are of a certain age
Xenophobia is when people are treated differently because they are from a different location. This could be as of big a difference as a different country or as small of a difference as a different city.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate xenophobia include
- Making negative associations with people from different areas.
- “Dominicans are always angry”
- “You’re from Africa? Do you hunt lions”
- “Oh, you are from the south? You must be uneducated, did you graduate high school?”
- Mimicking fake accents from different places as a way to belittle the people from those places
5. Religious Prejudice
Religious prejudice is when people are treated differently because of their religion. The most famous form of this is Islamophobia (the mistreatment of Muslims), and Anti-Semitism (the mistreatment of Jews) because of their religion.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate religious prejudice include
- Assuming that any religion that differs from yours is wrong or a lie
- Assuming that all Muslims are terrorists
- Assuming that all Christians hate homosexuals
- Joking about and mimicking religious traditions and practices as a way to belittle the people of that religion
6. Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Sexual orientation discrimination is when people are treated differently on the basis of identifying as a certain sexual orientation. The most common form is homophobia which is discrimination against homosexuals.
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate sexual orientation discrimination include
- Labeling platonic affection between friends of the same sex as “gay”
- Labeling undesirable things as gay
- Making “gay jokes” in general
- Assuming that because a male is gay, he is not allowed to be masculine
- Assuming that if a woman is gay she is not allowed to be feminine
- Assuming that sexuality is connected to physical ability or emotional stability
Classism is when people are treated differently on the basis of their social class. This could be due to the neighborhood the people live in or the amount of money that the people have
Microaggressions that are used to perpetuate classism include
- Assuming that people who are apart of a lower income class are uneducated
- Assuming that people who live in the inner city are thugs or dangerous
- Assuming that people who live more expensive neighborhoods are rich or stuck up
- Refusing to work with people from different class
Question of The Week:
Have you ever experienced discrimination? What was done or said?
I successfully completed a phone interview, and [the interviewer] said [that] I pretty much had the job and invited me to complete the process onsite. I drove 16 hours with 2 children in the car. When I arrived, the receptionist called to inform [the interviewer] that I was there. [The Interviewer] came out, looked [at me, a black woman], and returned behind closed doors. [The receptionist] informed me the job was no longer available and my interview had been canceled.
Answer by Gregory Wilson, Musician | Website
I was fortunate enough to be a High School Junior on an overnight pre-college program [trip]. [We went] to an Ivy League school. It was a beautiful campus [and] awesome experience. We had been treated to go see a movie and had the management report [us] and threaten to call police on us, because they felt threatened by our presence. We were a mix of black and brown kids. All excited because it was the new action film out and had all the subsequent privileges taken away
I think, I am pretty accustomed to racism and violence in my city… but I think what hurt from me about this was that for some part of me I was expecting that people in a college Town where progressive thoughts are consistently being talked about would somehow have more understanding and empathy only to be proven wrong
Yes, of course. Whenever you are on the internet, people see Indians in a [lower] manner, we all are aware of that. If you ask me personally, no. I have never been there. One of the classic cases [which we may all s be aware of is when] PewDiePie released a diss track against T-Series, but the lyrics are specially targeted towards us [Indians], and we are aware of that. [At the] end of the day, it was portrayed that Indians couldn’t take sarcasm. In these days, social media, prejudice has become a new trend to [bring discrimination] to limelight and gain publicity.
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It is important that we not only be able to recognize overt racism, but that we recognize the microaggressions that perpetuate discrimination and make room for systemic racism. The answers above are from real people who have experienced discrimination and prejudice and were brave enough to share their stories. I would like to thank those people for being a light that shines through the darkness though others have tried to dim it.
I ask all my lovelies to keep an eye out for discrimination and if you see something that is prejudice or racist, say something.
About the Author
Mish (Pronounced Meesh) Truth has always been a natural social justice advocate. She now holds BA in Psychology and will hold an MSW by May 2021.
She is is passionate about social justice issues and overall mental wellness. This includes knowledge on how to develop healthy relationships, and awareness mental and medical illnesses, and social justice issues.
Growing up in an urban, low income, community, she learned a lot before her time. She credits her success to her self awareness and desire for personal growth.
Her goal is to change the world by affecting at least one person, educating them, inspiring them, and then empowering them to go out and affect more change.
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