For at least the last year or two, I’ve been wanting to publicize the insidious shame and humiliation I feel every time I am on the receiving end of microaggression in my everyday life. I even thought about starting a whole website where other people can share their experience with the intention of it serving as some sort of virtual support group. Well like I said, it’s been some time and that idea hasn’t really taken off with much gusto.
After my latest run-in just yesterday, I thought why not use this platform. So here I’ll publicize this part of my journey because frankly I’m tired of bearing the weight of it alone. As I update (and re-publish) this page, feel free to share your story or pass it along to the next person.
What is microaggression?
An utterance, action, or event regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic or gendered minority.
Microaggression along my journey
Self-identification: Declines to provide.
- Mar 2020: White female and black female telling me all the ways they couldn't help me open a bank account at First Horizon. Black female's questions made me feel like I was the problem or that my behavior was in some way suspicious or fraudulent. How does a person walk into a bank with a valid ID, SSN, and passport and walk out with no bank account. She refused to even try.
- Mar 2020: Salty customer service at Wells Fargo from white male.
- Mar 2020: 1 black and 2 white males at Spectrum immediately saw me as a problem and told me all the ways they couldn't help me sign up for internet and cable.
- Jan 2020: New white co-worker with no experience in this field at current place of employment offered a more desirable writing job which she turned down because she didn’t feel comfortable doing due to her lack of experience; when I went for the role, which I have training and experience in, I was told I would be “considered.”
- Mar 2019 – Jan 2020: 20+ interviews where I didn’t “have the experience they were looking for,” but similar roles occupied by white women with even less or no experience.
- Sep 2019: Weird white man interviewing me and spending way too much time on how different my name is.
- Sep 2019: White woman hovering over me at bakery shelf when minutes before we were all waiting patiently for another white woman to make her selection.
- Sep 2019: Black woman othering me at polling place over my name.
- Jun 2019: On an interview in Seattle, white female interviewer looked so uncomfortable talking to me. Her questions matched her reply: short and curt. I got the feeling while she’s probably seen someone that looks like me… you know because we exist…she’d unlikely had to work with a ‘me’ in her professional life.
- Jun 2019: On an interview in Seattle, Asian bro-tastic male interviewer aggressively grilling game on basic medical information process; the thing is I’d already passed the screening process; I had more experience than him and had more education; if I were a ‘bro,’ I know the interview would’ve gone a little differently. They rarely seem to get questioned on actual skill and are always such a “natural fit.”
- Jun 2019: Black male co-worker asking if I knew who a popular historical icon was. Didn’t ask the white female co-worker in the same conversation. Funny that.
- Jun 2019: Asian female co-worker questioning why I’ve been selected to do certain choice tasks by our manager; insinuating that I either was selected out of obligation or that it was because I didn’t fit in with the group.
- April 2019: Stumbling on the “where are you from?” question during an interview and receiving feedback that “I wouldn’t hire you either.” But are you asking about my nationality? Where I grew up? Where I lived last? What if my origin story is so significantly different from yours that it would take me out of the running anyway? Is this question even relevant to this job?
- April 14, 2019: The white woman looks with horror as I near her unattended purse.
- Mar 2019: The black cashier asks if I am paying with food stamps (Las Vegas).
- Fall 2014: Being berated by my white male professor for 1 hr+ for not showing complete deference to his authority. I was brought to tears before he would stop. When I told my school, they said “well this is the south…”
- 2011-2015: Harnett County, NC cashiers (one white male, one Hispanic female) repeatedly ask if I’m paying with food stamps.
- 2011: White female landlord refuses to rent me one of her rooms after meeting me. States the other roommates would be uncomfortable. Once in Harnett County, NC. Once in Wake County, NC.
- 2009: Parents of white students didn’t want people that looked like me teaching their students. (Beaumont, CA)
- 2005: Hispanic male campus dining hall manager asked if I were there to interview for a job (New Orleans, LA).
- 1995: Integrated my middle school. White male classmate tells me white people are better than people that look like me.
- 1991-2001: My aunt that helped raise me having to switch jobs (in central IL) every few years because she was told to her face they didn’t want someone that looked like her (i.e. not a white man) as the pastor of their church (United Methodists). I remember thinking, if she could just be more like them, she wouldn’t have this problem. What a stupid, stupid woman I was. Experiencing this first hand in adult life and in the workplace after working my whole life to assimilate into American culture makes me feel dirty. How dare me or anyone ask someone to be anything other than their authentic self when that’s not asked of everyone (at least not to the same degree).
- More to come…