This week, we were asked to observe for micro aggressions. I did not see any this week, but remembered some from another time. My mom went out to dinner with some former friends of hers a couple years ago. They went to a Mexican restaurant and at the end of the dinner, my mom’s friend asked to speak to the manager who also happened to be the owner. Many of his employees appear to be his family members. Anyway, she informed him that he needed to find waiters who spoke English. I was not with them, but when my mom told me I was surprised that someone would be that rude. Especially since I’ve been there many times and all the servers spoke clear and understandable English. Another time, my boyfriend and I went to the store with my mom and this friend. Somehow, she ended up finding a guy from Mexico in the store, she told him that she wanted to introduce him to my boyfriend and brought him over. My boyfriend’s parents were originally from Mexico, but moved here many years ago so that’s where she made that connection. There was some small talk between my boyfriend and the guy, but it was very awkward. This was a middle aged man and my boyfriend was in his early twenty’s at the time. This friend of my mom’s falsely assumed that all Mexicans or people of Mexican descent are the same and would automatically want to meet others like them regardless of the circumstances. There was never any point in bringing this to her attention because she clearly thought she was doing a good thing.
Around the time that hurricane Katrina hit, this woman also had many negative comments about black people and how they are bringing the way they were being treated on themselves. I feel that this woman was very unhappy with herself and her own life so she had to put others down to feel happy. Even though most of my examples included this one woman, micro aggressions happen every day and to many individuals or groups of people. I have also been a target of micro aggressions. A few months ago at work, one of my coworkers said that it was good that I finally got a full-time job rather than sit home collecting disability. I told her that even with a disability; I never simply sat home collecting disability benefits. I’ve either had part-time jobs, was a volunteer or student and I had looked for full-time work since my graduation. She told me she knew a lot of people who like to just get what they can out of the system. While that may be true, she shouldn’t assume I was one of those people. It doesn’t make sense because if I were one of those people, I wouldn’t have started working there in the first place. It’s also proof that once people have a stereotype in their mind, they don’t know how to react when they see something that goes against it.
The assignments this week remind us to think before we speak which should be common sense. However, some people get too comfortable voicing their opinion even if it is full of bias messages. We especially need to think before we speak while talking to families we work with. You can’t build a positive relationship with them if there are micro aggressions getting in the way. It’s best to ask questions and not assume things based on stereotypes.