Here's How to Acknowledge a Microaggression

So you've experienced a microaggression. Now what?

It was an offhand comment, and you were unaware that it was disparaging. But now that a colleague has brought the snub to your attention, you realize what you said was aggressive. How do you acknowledge your mistake?

Microaggression are the everyday humiliations and offences that members of marginalized groups endure in their routine interactions with people from all walks of life. Now, these remarks and behaviours “happen carelessly and often without any harm intended but they offer evidence “that the initiator harbours unconscious bias.” Meanwhile, the person on the receiving end who belongs to a group that’s discriminated against— be it because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religion— is often left to suffer in silence.

Now within the racial context – whether macro and microaggressions we need to make changes! When a Microaggression takes place, one of two things can happen.

  1. You make a microaggression, but you are so filled with pride that you sweep the situation under the carpet because you think you are entitled. And to that, I would say you need to be a better HUMAN BEING and CALL YOURSELF OUT!
  2. You realize it yourself and acknowledge it to yourself or someone or the victim was brave enough to call you out.

So, either way, you’ve called yourself out or you have been called out for committing a microaggression, what do you do next? You need to respond with compassion, concern, and humility.

  1. Take a breath- You may experience a range of emotions — It’s normal to feel embarrassed, stressed, and uncomfortable. But do not let these feelings rule how you react. Understand that while you may have made a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
  2. Understand the difference between intent and impact. Intention doesn’t negate the impact. It is more important to acknowledge the mistake (“I realize I hurt you) than to defend the intent (“I never meant to…”).
  3. Don’t make it about you— don’t get defensive, be open and willing to understand your biases.
  4. Listen and understand why the other person is upset and how what you said or did affects them, it took a lot of courage and emotional stress for them to speak up and you need to honour their feelings.

After the incident has occurred, you can follow these steps to help you deal with these situations.

  1. Do not keep bringing up the incident after, move on and learn how you can avoid making that mistake again in the future. Work on genuinely repairing the relationship with the person you were aggressive with.
  2. Educate yourself. Ask if they have the capacity to let you know what you can do or say differently if possible. We use the LEAP framework. Build meaningful relationships with racialized people.

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