Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

I encountered microaggressions in my home town and in my university’s hometown. It is not a good feeling. Sometimes you feel that you have done something wrong for being born in a culture where attitudes rests on negative stereotypes about individuals or groups because of their cultural, religious, racial, or ethnic background. Discrimination is the active denial of desired goals from a category of persons. A category can be based on sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, or class. More recently, disadvantaged groups now also include those based on gender, age, and physical disabilities.

Prejudice and discrimination are deeply imbedded at both the individual and societal levels. Attempts to eradicate prejudice and discrimination must thus deal with prevailing beliefs or ideologies, and social structure.

The root cause of prejudice and discrimination appears to be no clear acceptance of any theory of causation. Scholars do agree, however, that prejudice and discrimination are not universals as something humans are inherently born with. There is ample evidence that prejudice and discrimination are social constructions. Prejudice and discrimination are inherent in the human condition.There is considerable evidence that prejudice is absent in young children (e.g. Allport, 1954). Fantastic!

There is no wide agreement as to the “cause” of prejudice and discrimination, there is a consensus that they constitute a learned behavior. The internalization of prejudice starts with parents and, later, teachers–the groups primary in the formation of attitudes within children. The media and social institutions solidify prejudicial attitudes, giving them social legitimacy. In a sense, it is incorrect to speak of “eradicating” prejudice, since prejudice is learned. (In a similar vein, one cannot eradicate evil except by ensuring the presence of goodness.) At best, one can reduce prejudice and discrimination. Society looks most often to education and legislation to alleviate prejudice and discrimination–for reasons still not clearly known, intergroup contact alone is not enough to reduce prejudice (Klineberg, 1968: 441)

Multicultural education, whether direct or indirect, constitute the mainstay of educational efforts to eliminate prejudice. On the other hand, the emphasis on civil rights, enlightened immigration policies, and mandates for quota hiring are the cornerstone of legal approaches to alleviating the effects of prejudice and discrimination. “The most overlooked area in resolving the problems of prejudice and discrimination lies in the web of close relationships where genuine feelings of love can be fostered and strengthened. The internalization of prejudice starts with parents and, later, teachers–the groups primary in the formation of attitudes within children. The media and social institutions solidify prejudicial attitudes, giving them social legitimacy. In a sense, it is incorrect to speak of “eradicating” prejudice, since prejudice is learned. (In a similar vein, one cannot eradicate evil except by ensuring the presence of goodness.) At best, one can reduce prejudice and discrimination. Society looks most often to education and legislation to alleviate prejudice and discrimination–for reasons still not clearly known, intergroup contact alone is not enough to reduce prejudice (Klineberg, 1968: 441). On one hand, multicultural education, whether direct or indirect, constitute the mainstay of educational efforts to eliminate prejudice. On the other hand, the emphasis on civil rights, enlightened immigration policies, and mandates for quota hiring are the cornerstone of legal approaches to alleviating the effects of prejudice and discrimination. The most overlooked area in resolving the problems of prejudice and discrimination lies in the web of close relationships where genuine feelings of love can be fostered and strengthened ( Henderson, 1993).

References:

Allport, Gordon W. (1958) The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. A classic and important study.

Klineberg, Otto (1968) “Prejudice: The Concept” International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences. New York: Macmillan and Free Press.: 439-448. A critique of conventional approaches to the study of prejudice and discrimination.

( Henderson, 1993). Reports submitted by the Bahá’í International Community the various United Nations agencies on the subject of the status of women, racism, genocide, and religious persecution, offer an international perspective of Bahá’í activities.

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9 thoughts on “Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

  1. Birdie,
    Thank you for sharing such great information. Your right, these instances make us feel as if something were bad. When I had a comment made about my language, I felt awful. I’m almost sure this wasn’t the intention, but I couldn’t help thinking, is my accent that bad? Is what I am saying, less credible? Were they even listening to what I was saying? There is very much so a disadvantage to these microaggressions.

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    • Monica,
      That is the sad part. People have to experience hurt because of the unintentional comments. Keeping speaking what is right. I think you are far more credbile than you realize. I will always advocate love. It is all I have to give. It is free! It is from my heart!

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  2. Wow!! what a load of knnowedge. Great stuff!!!! I think that is where most people are mistaken. Dicriminationatory and prejudice ways are taught not inhetited. These teachings start at home and and eventrually is in teachers hands. I think that is why are role models we must step out of our own comfort and teach our children the right way to interact with others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dominque,
      You are right, teachers and parents must send the correct messages from home and the classroom. We are role models. Love and respect are shown daily. Children look to us for guidance in everything they do as early learners. We can not failed them.

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  3. Birdie,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information!!! Very informative!!! I totally agree with the statement “Sometimes you feel that you have done something wrong for being born in a culture where attitudes rests on negative stereotypes about individuals or groups because of their cultural, religious, racial, or ethnic background”. At times you may feel like ive done something wrong because there is so much hatered towards you for things you cant control such as race. You cant decide what race you want to be, you cant ask to be a different race before birth so why is there so much hate towards something one cant control. I don’t understand why race bothers people so much, if everyone just lived for themselves we wouldn’t have many of the issues we have today. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Birdie!
    Your post was very enlightening and powerful! I was so pleased to read your explanation about young children and prejudices. It is wonderful to know that this is undetectable and it places evenmore of a mandate on our position as educators to teach love and not hate by embracing others and being humane to others. It was really the highlight of your wonderful post! thanks for sharing… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! It is so wonderful that children love unconditionally. One of my best friends growing up was white. We remained great friends to this day. Children are great examples for us to follow. Thanks for being an advocate for early childhood education. WE CAN DO IT!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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