Medical News Today defined racial aggressions as “brief actions that communicate hostile, disrespectful, or negative racial insults towards targeted groups.” As subtle as they are, they do more harm over time. If we let microaggressions slide, it only fosters prejudice and racism.
Calling out microaggressions takes a lot of courage. Since it’s not overt, you might be misunderstood, seen as too sensitive and “making everything about race”. And when they are hidden in the comment section of your Twitter or Instagram feed, it makes things even more complicated.
Here are 3 fire ways to deal with microaggressions in the comment section.
When they go low, we go high
How excited were we when Michelle Obama uttered those unparalleled words back in 2016? As beautiful and convicting as it sounds, it is much harder to put into practice.
When you are confronted with microaggressions, you can choose to put on your big girl panties and respond to the comment, letting the person know it was offensive and hurtful and you can perhaps educate them on why the said comment is offensive. Sometimes, people are ignorant. Sometimes people are plain stupid. Sometimes people are just mean. But you can make a mark and leave a lasting impression with a lengthy paragraph calling out their action, why it’s offensive and why it should not be done to anybody else.
Report the comment and BLOCK the account
With numerous voices on social media, it is vital to protect your peace and make the use of the unfollow, mute, restrict and most importantly, the block button.
As Black women, we deal with A LOT on a daily; microaggressions being one of them and social media has only exacerbated these- but the power is ultimately back in your hands. BLOCK, BLOCK, BLOCK.
Pick your battles wisely
At the end of the day, there are consequences with every decision you make. It is a no-brainer that we live in a society that is white and male-dominated. Thus, it is important to consider which microaggressions to address and if you are ready to deal with the potential consequences. A toolkit called the Guide to responding to microaggressions developed by Dr Nadal lists five questions to consider when deciding how to deal with a microaggression and this applies to microaggressions in the workplace.
- If I respond, could my physical safety be in danger?
- If I respond, will the person become defensive and will this lead to an argument?
- If I respond, how will this affect my relationship with this person (e.g., co-worker, family member, etc.)
- If I don’t respond, will I regret not saying something?
- If I don’t respond, does that convey that I accept the behaviour or statement?
All this to say- you as a Black woman deserve the best. You deserve peace and wellness. You can’t control the hurtful and racist things people will say online, but you can be intentional about creating a safe and healthy community of friends online; people who share the same values as you. And when these microaggressions do happen, you can also choose to educate those who step out of line although, over time, this can be exhausting. At the end of the day, nothing can affect you unless you allow it to. You ultimately have the power. Keep your boundaries laid firm. Stand up for yourself when you need to and pick your battles wisely.