Davidson Microaggressions Project

Women Understand Things Differently

I approached my professor in office hours to discuss material in a high-level [science] course. I was confused about a difficult concept that was presented during lecture. After about 10 minutes of discussion, the professor, seeing that I was still confused, suggested I join a “woman’s society” for science. He clarified by stating, “Nothing wrong with it, but women understand things differently.” 

“No, I’m a new professor.”

Over the summer, a black man walked into our campus office. Another student worker greeted him and said, “Are you the new football coach?” You could see on his face he just wanted to sigh–he said, “No, I’m a new professor.” 

Hard of Hearing on Campus

As a Hard of Hearing student I am frequently told things along the lines of, “You do not sound Deaf,” “Wow, I wouldn’t know you are hard of hearing if you had not told me. You must work so hard,” and  “That is so inspiring that you have overcome so get to where you are.” I am also often asked to “try to read my lips,” and “can you take out your hearing aids and then tell me if you can hear me?”  While these microaggressions are annoying and invalidating, others have a truly detrimental impact on my ability to learn and participate, such as the refusal of people at events to wait for the microphone to speak because they will “just speak loud enough.”  One semester I was in 80 person collaborative seminar. After class on the first day I went up to the professors and told them that I could not hear well in the room and it was difficult for me to find sight lines to read lips. I gave an explicit suggestion for a different room. One of the professors told me that the other room would not be better. I was uncomfortable telling him that I knew I would be able to hear better in the other room. Two months later, after several different attempts to make the room we were in work in different ways and getting the accessibility office involved we finally switched to the room I had recommended on day one. At the end of the first class in that room, a student raised their hand and asked if we could always meet in the new room because it was easier to hear. I felt both validated and deflated- If I had been listened to on day one not only would I have had a better learning experience, but so would all of my hearing classmates. 

Heritage Assumptions

When I tell people where I am from, they automatically assume I know other people of that heritage, or am interested in connecting with all other people of that heritage. “Oh wow, you’re from this country? I know someone from there, do you want me to give you their phone number?” or “Wow, you’re from this country? Are your family refugees? How did you end up here?” It goes as far as to repeatedly invite me to events (that I am not interested in) because they are related to my background. I always feel obligated to attend the event, to accept the phone number, to explain my immigration story. 

Native Americans & Party City

I went to Party City to get some blue hair dye for my Halloween costume. While I was looking through the aisles, I saw Native American headdresses and costumes mimicking clothes worn by Native Americans. The friend I was with saw nothing wrong with it. Even after Victoria’s Secret was called out for using Native American dress as fashion on a white woman…even after countless AP US history lessons covering the mistreatment and massacre of Native Americans…it seems no one is listening. I am not Native American nor of Native American descent. I just see this as a disgusting display of ignorance and a misappropriation of a minority group’s culture. 

“Too Much of a Perfectionist”

I was told by a former partner that my “neuroticism would ruin my kids.” He unabashedly advised me to forget having them at all because I was “too much of a perfectionist”. Having high expectations for yourself and your children is different from “ruining” or abusing them. Just because I am learning to love and respect myself at this moment in time does not mean I am utterly incapable of loving and respecting my potential children. My decision to have children will have nothing to do with his generalizations about and misunderstanding of OCD. It will be my own. 

My Blackness Isn’t Valid

For the most part, I am very slow towards anger. I am pretty reserved unless you truly get to know me. That being said, I feel upset when my blackness isn’t seen as blackness. I am a firm believer that a group can be founded on a set shared morals however, everyone within isn’t the same. This is why I feel troubled when people say “what type of black person does that” referring to casual activities such as listening to a genre of music or going to a Halloween event. I have experienced this for quite some time here as I navigate the space of being African without a specific group to share my blackness with truly understands me. As I stated, I am slow to anger but this really has made me think of how being a specific person within a group can be limiting.