This week we are studying microaggressions and how they affect people. A microaggression is a comment, gesture, or circumstance viewed as an ambiguous, understated, or unforeseen discrimination critical of affiliates of a sidelined minority or racial group.
My husband and I spent Thanksgiving Day flying from Phoenix Arizona to Michigan to be with our family. The time we spent at the airport was an interesting experience. Everyone was anxious to get to their destinations. So, as we were putting all our belongings on the conveyor belt and an older African American lady was having a hard time removing her shoes. A young Caucasian male looked at her and stated, ” you look awful old to be traveling, shouldn’t you have stayed home.” I went over to the lady and offered to help her with her shoes and she was grateful. The young man said “You should let her take care of herself.” My husband told the young man to go and get ready to board the plane. He walked away however, his statement was an intentional microaggression toward the older lady. She had done nothing to this young man she was just trying to board the flight like everyone else.
On Friday the day after Thanksgiving My husband and I spent two days with our grandchildren in a hotel with a pool. On Friday we swam for two hours in the pool and we had the pool to ourselves for the first hour and then an African American family joined us and then a white grandfather and his younger granddaughter joined us. I was on the deep end and I watched the interaction of the children in the pool. My grandchildren joined me on the deep end and the other children stayed together on the shallow end. My oldest granddaughter who is 17 saw that the African American children were afraid of the water, so she went over and offered to walk them around the pool. At first, they seemed unsure, so she took a swim around the pool and returned. Then when she offered again the youngest girl accepted and the mom said it was OK. Then my granddaughter took her around the pool and then the other children wanted a turn. As we have been studying microaggressions this week it gave me pause to think about this scenario. My granddaughter had good intentions to help these children however; they weren’t sure how to accept her kindness. She was trying to interact with these children, yet they weren’t sure whether thy could trust her. Once they accepted her help they had a wonderful time together and all weekend we talked off and on with this family.
I felt that both scenarios were descriptions of microaggressions. The first scenario at the airport could have been avoided. The older lady did nothing to cause the young man to call her to old to travel. There were many older people at the airport that were traveling and they all had a right to be there. Sometimes the best thing we can do is say nothing at all. That would have been good advice for this young man. My granddaughter wanted to help the children enjoy their time in the water. yet, they were not sure how to accept her kindness. She didn’t pressure them she went around the pool and then offered again. The children then accepted her invitation with the consent of their mother. As Dr. Sue talked about in the video conditions to prevent microaggressions are having a common sense of connection with one another. My granddaughter was trying to have that connection with these children. Have a marvelous week!
Laureate Education, (2011). Microaggressions in everyday life, Retrieved from