Microaggression

OMG OMG OMG

I just had a Eureka! moment.

I am not alone.

What I have been experiencing all day, every day, has a NAME!

It’s not all in my head.

I’m allowed to feel hurt and upset and offended.

It’s ‘Microagression!’

Wiki defined it as: ‘brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial or sexist slights and insults’

These messages may be sent verbally or nonverbally (e.g clutching one’s purse more tightly )

Examples of microagression:

1. ‘You speak really good English’

2. ‘I’m not racist, I have many black friends.’

3.  ‘I don’t think of you as Black. You are just a normal person to me.’

4. ‘You’re Muslim? Really? Its good to know there are nice Muslim people out there.’

The most common implied messages are:

“You do not belong,” “You are abnormal,” “You are intellectually inferior,” “You cannot be trusted,” and “You are all the same.”

There are many more real-life examples here.

Oh em gee! I finally have a name for this phenomenon!

Usually when someone makes a subtle, random, thoughtless comment in reference to my race or gender, I ignore it.

I FEEL  hurt. And upset. And ashamed. And angry.

Very angry.

Also terribly confused.

I feel like my emotions are not legitimate. Maybe I am being over-sensitive.

Moreover, because the slight is so subtle, it is easy to make yourself ignore it. Easy to pretend it didn’t happen rather than confront it.

Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, PhD says that: ‘While the person may feel insulted, she is not sure exactly why, and the perpetrator doesn’t acknowledge that anything has happened because he is not aware he has been offensive.’

A 2007 paper published in American Psychologist (Vol. 2, No. 4) has outlined some definitions:

Microinsults: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a colleague of color how she got her job, implying she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system.

Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, white people often ask Asian-Americans where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land.

Lately at work, I have been getting comments in reference to my age. And my gender. A. Lot.

‘Young lady, you have done reeeeeeeeeeeeally well!’

Emphasis on the ‘young’. Emphasis on ‘really’

If you heard the tone with which that ‘compliment’ was delivered you would realize it wasn’t one.

What was implied was: You are young, and a junior and a woman. Learn your place. You are doing well. But don’t get ahead of yourself.

Grrr.

It’s annoying that people get away with their prejudices so lightly.

We let people walk all over us, and we don’t even realize they are doing it!

This is an example posted by someone on Microagression.tumblr.com

“But you’d know about that, wouldn’t you? Asian parents and overachievement and their focus on studies?” Professor to me, one of two Asian students in my psychology class in Australia in 2010. Made me feel angry. I am not the Appointed Spokesperson.

Ummm, sadly, I have been guilty of that one.

I have always assumed that Asians have a better work ethic when it comes to school work. And usually achieve really good grades. Granted, this is from my experience as a teacher at a primary school in China (I volunteered for two months) BUT, it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s a generalization, and may make others feel ‘boxed’

Another example that really gets me is:

I am a doctor and was helping my white colleague apply a bandage to a patient’s face when the tape caught on my glove for a moment.  ”Look at that,” she joked to the patient, “I almost taped you to Dr. —-.  You would’ve been running around with a small Asian woman stuck to you.”  Not only did she undermine my dignity in the patient’s eyes, but I was shocked that she felt the need to figure my race into this – not to mention that I’m 5’6” in work shoes and of proportionate weight.

Okay, I must admit I chekad (laughed) a bit initially after reading that last one. BUT in a professional environment, how mean and hurtful and belittling is that comment?!

Usually, people who make such statements, are oblivious to the fact that they have offended you!

Calling them up on the perceived insult, usually results in embarrassment on both sides.

Le sigh.

Responses are usually along the lines of:

‘Stop being so sensitive.’

‘Chill out, you know we love you.’

‘You have no sense of humour, it was a joke!’

Grrrrr!

It was not a joke. It was offensive. Stop doing it!

On a similar vein, there is a really old clinical biochemist/professor at work who used the ‘N’ word at a meeting.

He said ‘Negro’ rather than ‘Nigger’

But I still find the word ‘Negro’ offensive.

He was using it in a scientific/academic way though. So the whole room full of multi-racial medical professionals, let it slide.

Is it okay to use the word ‘Negro’? I don’t know. In America, I know for sure it would be frowned upon. But over the pond in the U.K, people seem to use it freely.

Any thoughts?

Maybe we are all just being over-sensitive.

But maybe, racism is alive and kicking.

Camouflaged behind sickly-sweet smiles, and sugar-coated insults.

I am Muslim.

I am brown-skinned.

I am a woman.

Kindly take your aggression. Micro or otherwise elsewhere.

That is all.

Peace.

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African Racism

Why is it acceptable for black people to hate on other black people freely? Why do people just accept it or brush it off when racism is coming from within the same race?

Today, I had a friend call the Kenyan athletes (who just won 10,000M at the commonwealth games) , ‘a bunch of monkeys running about.’

Screeeeeeeeeeech. HALT. Rewind. Say whaaaaaaaaaaat?

OK, firstly, just because you are black, does NOT give you the right to say that. The fact that you are a Somali (who looks down on ‘Bantu’ Africans) does not allow you to throw around racist comments like that. Secondly, it is ludicrous that you accuse me of NOT HAVING A SENSE OF HUMOUR when I call you up on it. I do not find jokes that ridicule other races funny.

Do you think I am over reacting readers?

I just think its pathetic that we find it acceptable to be racist within our own race. There are many terms for different degrees of black: ‘yellow yellow’, ‘high yellow’, ‘deep red’  These terms refer to the different complexions within the black race. Some can be used in a complimentary fashion-but others in a derogatory way. Especially those referring to the darker complexions. With enough hate coming from other races, why are we heaping even more crap on each other. One does not shit in one’s own backyard.

*Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath*

I am proud to be Kenyan. I am proud to be African. My brown behind is as African as you’re black one. Do not even THINK I won’t tackle you and put you in a headlock the next time you insult my peoples. You have been warned.

Rant over.

Where have all the good men gone?

Wedding  Bianca & Hishan

Image by DavidSurfer via Flickr

Now this article is on behalf of all the sisters out there looking. Looking for the man of their dreams. Well. Not necessarily the man of their dreams. He doesn’t have to be George Clooney or Brad Pitt. A pious muslim brother without too much hair on his back, who respects his mother would do.

No, seriously. This issue of finding a man to settle down with and get married to is an age-old one. How difficult is it to find that match who satisfies our feminist views (must cook, must respect women, must NOT expect me to massage his feet after work), our mother’s expectations (Doctor or lawyer ONLY!…okay maybe an accountant as long as he is making wads of cash) AND our father’s impossible standards (Does he have a 10 year plan and a house?)

Well, together with the difficulties of today’s society-Its all VERY taxing.

If you try to do things the right way-no dating, no weird internet dating sites, no ugly cousins that your parents are shoving onto you-how exactly do you find you’re husband to be?

You can’t exactly walk up to a muslim brother, introduce yourself and ask if he’s single….umm, wait CAN you?

We are faced with the following issues in today’s modern jungle:

a) Girls are more educated.

This means we are more picky. We will not accept that distant relative from the village who has no further ambitions than to expand his growing stock of cattle. It also means, men are scared of us. Yes, they kind of are. Who wants a know-it-all wife who makes more money, demands cooking skills as well as financial stability to rival her own?

Sadly, our qualifications work against us ladies.

Muslimah doctors

b) Modern Society

Having been seduced (read *brain washed* ) by romantic comedies and Disney films our whole lives, we are all waiting for Prince Charming. We also want to be romanced. And to fall madly in love. And to live Happily Ever After.

Unfortunately, they are called fairy tales for a reason.

Now, this whole Prince Charming idea does NOT fit in with Islamic Aqeedah. We cannot have a magic first kiss or romantic dates under the stars.

Yet, we do not want the traditional match-making-arranged-marriage type malarkey either. ‘How can I marry someone I don’t know at all!!!??’ my friend once wailed at me. (She is now happily married to said man)

So no ‘Prince Charming’ and no ‘Traditional Man’.

Where does that leave us?

c) A multi-cultural world in a bigoted society

With today’s society being the melting pot that it is, I often find myself working beside a Caucasian Irish physiotherapist, a Pakistani doctor, a Somali nurse, and an African receptionist. Oh not to mention the ….multi-racial variety ( I struggled to find the Politically Correct word there) From Afro-Arabs such as myself, to Indo-Caucasians, we have a larger pot from which we can pick our potential mates.

In theory.

See, with Muslims from different backgrounds working together, living together, interacting in society, there is bound to be some …inter-mingling. By that I mean, a Muslim African brother sees a practicing Asian hijabi sister, and decides she could make a good potential future wife. Enquiries are made, the sister is flattered, excited even at the prospect. Yet after a few preliminary meetings, the sister’s family responds to the proposal with a resounding NO.

Dreams dashed. Hopes shattered.

Racism in Islamic communities is alive and kicking.

d) Lack of Islamic Knowledge

How many of us have studied, truly studied the principles of courting and marriage in Islam? Do we know that we have been guided into what to look for in a spouse? What to say to a potential husband/wife?

Well, we have.

Read up.

We are looking for the all wrong things in our potential hubbies-to-be. Bank balances, muscles and a high-powered career will only get you so far. Look for someone who you can love for the sake of Allah.

In certain countries, men are given a grant by the government to get married. Why? Well, they simply can’t afford it otherwise. Women are asking for dowries that are too high. Expenses that men simply cannot afford. In Egypt, Oman, Saudi, girls are languishing by their windows dreaming of Romeo, yet their asking prices are way to high. Imagine setting a price on yourself as though you were a cow!Way to go proving non-Muslims right; In Islam parents sell off their daughters to the highest bidder!

How much are you worth?

Totally wrong. Totally un-Islamic. The recommended dowry should be something small that the fiancé can afford. A Qur’an and a prayer mat even.

I don’t know the solution to our problems really. All I know, is that there are many nice Muslim sisters who want to get married. There are equally many nice Muslim brothers hoping to settle down. Now if I can just set up my international ‘Get Young Muslims Married Off ‘ organization, using a network of busybody ‘aunties’ in different communities, I might yet be able to pay off my student loans.

Peace.

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