Lived experience as a person of colour has taught me that the most powerful feature of the micro aggression is ones inability to prove it. This is perhaps because the micro aggression is delivered with such precise subtlety as it slowly dismantles your professional world. Or because it presents as barrier after barrier, hidden behind a cloak of pseudo selective professionalism which only seems to apply to your ‘sort’. Or perhaps because of the assumed knowledge and biases that accompany it draw everlasting conclusions on who you are, what you stand for, and what you are (in)capable of as a person of colour.
It is tough negotiating these counter narratives in the academie as a person of colour. It leads to a negotiation where you are in a permanent state of hyper conciousness of how you might appear or be perceived. Paranoid that should you dare to express your opinions, ideas, or thoughts, that you might be adding to the existing bundle of negative assumptions that already appear to exist about you.
Time and time again I have encountered colleagues of colour who have shared their traumas of the micro aggression – and time and time again, I have been left wondering what the impacts of these experiences must be on the mental health of the individuals that encounter them.
It is one thing to speak collectively to an equalities agenda but quite another to put this in to practice. The latter requires challenging reflexivity and the ability to individually and collectively assess our place in the narrative. To ask ourselves whether we consciously/subconsciously challenge or compound the problems?
Which begs the question, is this state of reflexivity a likely investment for those that benefit from the current state? So what next for those that are victim to these subtle and sometimes not so subtle aggressions?