Assignment 5: What is a micro-aggression? How do micro-aggressions relate to bullying and to cyber-bullying in particular? Give an example of a micro-aggression that you think counts as cyber-bullying and say way. If you think no micro-aggressions count as bullying explain why.
Due Wednesday, March 5th by noon.
Dr. Derald Wing Sue of Columbia University defines microaggression as the “everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of colour, women, lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals, or those who are marginalized, experience in their everyday interactions with other people.” Microaggressions are essentially subtle acts of bullying that can be delivered through unconscious actions, mannerisms or gestures as opposed to overt actions intended to harm. Often times, microagressions, because of their very nature, may be very hard to detect.
When we think of a bully, the image of a mad, nasty, and intimidating person is conjured up, and in particular, we mentally see the bully as having the added advantage of physical strength over his/her target. However as learned from an article entitled “Microaggressions in Everyday Life” by Derald Wing Sue, a bully can actually be an ordinary person who is viewed as a good, decent and moral individual. Otherwise known as a “charismatic bully”, this type of bully will not use his physical strength to threaten his victim. Instead, he will use subtle behaviors or mannerisms, which may not be intended to overtly harm his target as they can be so far removed from his level of consciousness that he is not even aware of the results of his actions or words. Whether the bully inflicts overt behaviors (in the case of a classic bully) or covert behaviors (in the case of the charismatic bully), both result in the targeted individual being hurt (physically or mentally) to some degree.
With the rapid growth of technological innovations, users of the internet have easy access to connect with others, and stay connected via multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Pinterest and so on. The interface of the web serves to remove inhibitions in people, which can foster a type of harassment known as “cyber bullying”. This type of bullying is hard to control and extremely difficult for the victim to escape it. While cyber bullying may be thought of as deliberate actions against an individual, microaggressions can, and do, exist as a form of cyber bullying. Consider this example: Jimmy is a popular kid at school – he is smart, athletic and well dressed. More than 50% of his grade follows him on twitter. One day, innocently, Jimmy decides to tweet something such as “What kind of a guy wears briefs?”. This seemingly harmless statement is then retweeted and favourited by his followers, and then their followers, and so on. A kid that happens upon the tweet, and who coincidentally wear “briefs”, may feel self conscious, and embarrassed. Another example involves “likes” on Facebook and Instagram. When a person posts a photo of themselves on either of these platforms, they do so because they like the picture, and they want their friends to like it too. An increasing number of “likes” serves to build up the confidence of the person who posted the photo. When a friend does not “like” the photo (and particularly if this occurs repeatedly), this can easily be taken as an insult. So while harm may not have been intended in either of these cases, these examples demonstrate that microaggressions can be included in the definition of cyber bullying because even though they may not be a deliberate form bullying, they can, in fact, cause emotional harm.
Microaggressions are overly subtle forms of bullying which can often be dismissed by most people. They can include the everyday slights, indignities and insults used against those in marginalized communities (such as women, people of colour, LGBT community members, etc.). They can appear to be complimentary in nature when being used, but will often contain hidden meanings or assumptions that demonstrate a form of prejudice against others. These can be either intentional or unintentional, however, both forms carry with them an element of ignorance that occurs at the cost of another’s expense. In order to combat microaggressions, one must analyze how they interact with others and identify any mannerisms they have which could be interpreted negatively by those feeling marginalized.
With regards to bullying, microaggressions are often used as a means by which to intimidate and control others through more subtle means than physical violence. There are many ways in which this can occur, but one example that occurs in the modern world could be a “boy’s club” in the workplace, where male coworkers will engage in social activities outside of work, such as a weekly dinner, drinks, or even a bowling team. Although the intention may have been to foster stronger working relationships with fellow employees, and perhaps most of the men may have felt that then women of the office would not be interested in coming along, participating in such events actively shuts out female coworkers, demonstrating a passive-aggressive form of bullying.
Cyber-bullying is a form of bullying which has become more common in recent years, with such a large number of social media websites which allow users to hide behind the mask of the internet to bully without much consequence. The internet provides countless means by which to allow microaggressions to occur regularly. One example that comes to mind is the USecrets Western page on Facebook, which allows users to anonymously post questions, concerns, and confessions to Facebook (more specifically to Western University students). There are a number of aspects of this Facebook page which could be interpreted as microaggressions, the first being the name of the page, which makes it so that it is exclusive to the Western community only and not to others, which was once pointed out in a post where someone asked why so many non-Western students use the page. The others would be in the posts, usually commenting on the social behaviours of students, generalizing “Western girls” or promoting homophobia in jokingly subtle ways (sometimes with students highlighting their friends as a means by which to embarrass them over specific posts). This page accurately depicts how common both the intentional and unintentional forms of microaggression are in societies.
In today’s society, micro-aggressions are easily overlooked as simply social norms, and can even be considered compliments. This was shown when Derald Wing Sue gave an example of an international student being complimented on his English. Micro-aggressions are everyday slights and put down society uses while interacting with each other. While not considered directly harmful, it is the accumulation of micro-aggressions against a certain race or demographic that causes harm. The difficulty in identifying micro-aggressions is that they are often compliments, which contain a hidden meaning frequently without the communicator realizing it. The problem is that these micro-aggressions have become commonplace in today’s interactions, especially within the cyber community.
In relation to direct bullying, both cyber and physical, micro-aggressions are the unintentional acts that keep a certain minority group segregated from the general population. Although, they do not cause the brunt physiological or physical damage of direct bullying, they maintain a standard of inequality that eventually interrogates itself into society. In particular, micro-aggressions can be looked at when stereotypes are used to distinguish a certain group, even if the intention is for humor. Stereotypes, regardless of the purpose, prevent minority groups from fully integrating themselves into everyday life. Although there is a strong contrast in stereotypical aggressions illustrated in the video, when the advisor compliments the student on his English skills and when the woman backs away from the black male, they are both considered micro-aggressions. These micro-aggressions, are not intentional most of the time, however they cause psychological harm to those targeted regardless.
An example of a micro-aggression that I believe counts as cyber bullying is when a person sees your post or message online, however does not acknowledge it. Although the receiver of the message does not intend to insult the sender by being passive, the sender may feel intentionally ignored and insulted that they did not like what they had to say. Consider this example; a person messages their friend inviting them to their party, after sending the message, the sender sees that their friend has read the message, yet does not reply. The person who received the message may have read it and been unable to reply because they were busy, chose not to reply because they could not come to the party anyways, or just didn’t feel like replying. Although their intentions were not aggressive in any of these cases, the sender may take offense to their lack of response. The emotions felt by the sender are similar to those that are felt from victims of cyber bullying. The person could of felt ignored, unwanted, and unappreciated.
I believe micro-aggression counts as cyber bullying because, as explained in the previous example, the emotions felt from micro-aggression are similar to those of cyber bullying. Although the emotions of micro-aggression are felt at a lesser scale, the build up of multiple cases can result in an equal emotional impact as cyber bullying. This is still true if person’s intentions were not deliberate, because the acts are still perceived as hurtful, and the victim is emotionally affected.
Dr. Wing Sue defines microaggressions as an everyday slight, put down or insult that people experience. Often times, the receiver of micro-aggressive acts are individuals in marginalized groups. This includes people of colour, women or LGBT communities and more. Micro-aggressive acts are outside the level of conscious awareness and therefore go unnoticed by the perpetrator. Nevertheless, they are impactful and hurtful towards certain individuals, especially to the ones mentioned. He brings up everyday examples that can carry a meta-communication of insult and these are examples of pseudo bullying.
With regards to how microagression relates to bullying, his article profiles a traditional bully (perpetrator) as a low achieving gruff with poor social skill who comes from a dysfunctional family. I have been taught from elementary school that bullying is an act of repeated harassment. Combining the two, the bully-victim relationship says: it requires an individual to perform repeated acts of harassment towards another individual to be considered bullying. According to this definition, it is hard to say that microaggression is active bullying, especially since it can be done sporadically and quite passively. However, Dr. Wing Sue mentions that it is important to consider the institutional and societal levels of this, so at the societal level, microaggression does become a form of bullying.
With many more individuals at the societal level, microaggression can aggregate and therefore turn into a form of apparent repeated harassment for the receiver. Furthermore, it is no longer an individual but many individuals who are considered the perpetrator – it is the society at large ‘bullying’ a marginalized group. When society becomes the agent, and the sporadic acts become frequent, the definition of bullying can be held true that microaggression is a form of bullying from the societal level. While it does not have the personal level of attachment classical bullies have, the violations are still severe and impacting for the receiving party since they are ostracized by society as a whole and this is just as detrimental.
To summarize, while the schoolyard bully punches the kid who is different, society ‘micro-aggresses’ the individuals who are different. In the 21st century, the social fabric is very much extended to online mediums such as Facebook and Twitter where micro-aggression can exist too, in fact, microaggressive acts are probably more prevalent in cyber-bullying overall. Users of the internet are not particularly conscious of their actions online, as explored in the privacy paradox. On Facebook for example, writing on someone’s timeline, commenting on posts or even liking comments can be paralleled to what happens in real life. A conversation can be started (timeline post), people can join in (commenting) and others can approve of what is happening (liking). All the little actions can be considered microaggressive depending on the context and content. Posts, comments or signs of approval can be insensitive, especially considering that they’re viewable by everyone’s friends.
This can count as cyberbullying considering that it is on a digital platform, and is exactly what microaggression on the societal level is, as I have explained. When many people are frequently insensitive to others on the internet and directly or indirectly cause harm by aggregating/ perpetuating the matter, it can definitely be considered bullying to the receiving individual/ group.
As quoted by Dr. Derald Wing Sue of Columbia University, “micro-aggressions are the everyday slights, indignities, putdowns and insults that people of colour, women, LGBT populations, or those who are marginalized experience in their day to day interactions with people. Micro-aggressions oftentimes appear to be a compliment, but contain a meta-communication or a hidden insult to the target groups in which it is delivered.” Micro-aggressions occur unconsciously, and can be expressed by ordinary people who perceive themselves to be good, moral and decent individuals. Because micro-aggressions occur subtly, the victim who experiences these micro-aggressive behaviours can perceive it to be an act of bullying, or cyberbullying depending on the circumstances.
Micro-aggressive behaviours can be found among ‘charismatic bullies’ in particular. According to the reading ‘Microaggressions in Everyday Life’ a charismatic bully can be described as “likeable, humorous, clean-cut, high achieving, and come from an outwardly appearing functional family. The charismatic bully will use subtle manipulation to exert their power over others, and is someone who is likely to be a leader among his or her peers.” For example, imagine that your professor randomly assigns you to work with a group for the final course project. The project is worth 40% of your final grade, so naturally, you and your group members want to receive the best grade possible. You begin discussing the project among your group members and find that one of the students has a very thick Asian accent. Assuming the role of the leader, you begin distributing various tasks pertaining to the project. You give everyone fairly different and complex tasks, but exclude the student with the thick accent; instead you assign this student a very small and simple task and inform them that you will contact them if you need any extra help. The leader of the group may not have consciously attempted to exclude the student with the thick accent, nor meant to have offended them. However, this situation demonstrates an act of micro-aggression. Because the student had a thick Asian accent, the leader of the group automatically assumed that the student would be incapable of contributing positively to the project. This could leave the victim feeling useless, upset, and unworthy of their peers time and trust.
In addition to bullying, a child can be cyberbullied through the use of micro-aggressive behaviours as well. As noted by ‘Stop Cyberbullying’, cyberbullying is “when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.” Let us look at an example of micro-aggressive behaviours through the use of Facebook. Laura is turning 15 in two weeks and is planning her birthday event on Facebook. Once she has finished updating the information for her event, she begins selecting her best friends to “host” the event with her; Laura’s best friends are Sarah, Alex and Haley. When selecting her friends to help host her party, she makes Sarah and Alex a host but not Haley. Haley has very strict parents, so her parents always expect her to be home by 9pm or else she gets grounded. Knowing that her party will go on past 9pm, Laura does not make Haley a ‘host’ because she unconsciously always knows that Haley has a strict curfew. Laura therefore invites Haley as a general guest, and sends out the remainder of the invitations on Facebook. When Haley clicks “going” on the event page, she comes to realize that her two other friends are hosting the party with Laura. This upsets Haley, making her feel left out, and even slightly embarrassed that her best friend wouldn’t consider her a host for her birthday party. Haley feels humiliated, scared that the other guests will judge her, and assume that she isn’t actually best friends with Laura. This situation displays an act of micro-aggression through a social networking site. Unaware of the potential implications, Laura excludes Haley because of her strict parents, and Haley is upset as a result of Laura’s actions.
Micro aggressions according to psychologist Derald Sue are “everyday slights, putdowns, ect. Often appearing to be a compliment, but have a hidden insult”. Micro aggressions relate to bullying even if they are subconsciously done. What is interesting though is that these micro aggressions aren’t what many typically believe bullying would be classified under such as physical abuse and or extremely harmful direct conscious insults. Because of the nature of micro aggressions happening almost entirely through a spoken dialect between individuals, it can easily occur and be translated through such things as the Internet, text messages, and other forms of communication. This than can be classified as cyber bullying, and knowing and understanding this definition makes it easy to differentiate micro aggressions from direct cyber bullying. For example, if an individual shares a video of someone doing something embarrassing or detrimental to that person’s image, it may cause severe harm to that individual’s impression on people, their confidence, and their overall well being. Such an act by that individual sharing an embarrassing video would than be what I believe to be classified as a direct form of cyber bullying. In contrast, a micro aggression may go unnoticed by the bully, but be noticed by the individual being bullied. In the article titled “Bullying & Microaggressions: Bulying: More Than Physical Violence” the article states that the term micro aggression “…opens up the possibilities of who can be a bully”. For example, a young white male asks a fellow classmate of Asian descent for help on a science project over facebook. After asking for his help, the young white male reiterates to his friend that he was been struggling, and that it would be easy for his friend because he is of Asian descent. Shortly after, another Student, this time a young black female, approaches the same student of Asian descent with the same reasoning. Such an act by the young white male and the black female could make the student of Asian descent feel exploited, used, and targeted because of a shared view these students obviously have. These students’ biases had led them to exploit another student based on their race. As outlined by psychologist Derald Sue, one of the things people should do to make “the invisible visible”, meaning unconscious micro aggressions visible to those performing them, is to “learn from constant vigilance of own biases and fears”. The young white male, and young black female could learn to overcome this stereotypical worldview by learning to understand their own biases, and in turn eliminate such micro aggressions from happening again. In conclusion, micro aggressions are a real and constantly used threat that if used repeatedly, can cause serious harm to those receiving it. Understanding your own biases and fears, and taking proper steps could help eliminate micro aggressions that you currently engage in, and in turn avoid hurting a friend’s confidence and feelings.
Micro-aggressions are subconsciously discriminative behaviours that can hurt and/or control other people at a very subtle level. More commonly, micro-aggressions are ingrained cultural biases targeted towards members of different racial backgrounds, sexual identities, or genders. As opposed to the traditional physical or verbal bullying, micro-aggressions are covert actions that often go unnoticed by the doer. Furthermore, micro-aggressions are performed by many people who do not fit the traditional image of a bully, making it even harder to identify the perpetrators as being bullies.
The first way that micro-aggressions relate to bullying is that both can be damaging to the recipient’s self-image. As an example, in Wing Sue’s video, the Asian student was very uncomfortable with the remark of the counselor because it made him feel uncomfortable with his cultural background. Though it was not the intention of the counselor, his subconscious bias towards Asians could have been as hurtful as a traditional bully’s more overt teasing. Thus, the result of micro-aggressions can be quite similar to bullying, although the intentions differ. Another way that micro-aggressions relate to bullying is that they are usually targeted towards a certain group of people, against whom the perpetrator has a bias. In the video, members of the opposite sex and racial minorities were targeted, as they were seen as inferior or different in some way. When biases are ingrained in the mind of the perpetrator, it can often come out in the form of micro-aggression when interacting with members against whom the perpetrator is biased. This has parallels with traditional bullying, as it often targets members of different races, social classes, social groups, or other minorities.
Finally, micro-aggressions can be difficult to stop, as they stem from the subconscious part of the mind and can sometimes go unnoticed. Even if it is brought up to the perpetrator or to an authority, the micro-aggressions may still not stop because either the perpetrator does not notice that he is doing anything wrong, or because the authority does not see the bias being presented in the form of micro-aggression. This can make the victim feel powerless, which is also a common feeling in victims of traditional bullying.
An example of micro-aggression that would also count as cyber-bullying occurs often in racial contexts. An example that I witness frequently is racist comments towards Chinese basketball players such as Jeremy Lin. In many of YouTube videos showing his play, the comments are often distasteful remarks that mock his racial background, such as calling him “The Yellow Mamba,” a racist pun on a black player’s “Black Mamba” nickname. Also, many express surprise in his ability, saying that he is good for an Asian player, implying that Asians are inferior to other races in this way. Though these remarks are used to express a sort of humour or appreciation, they can cross the line and damage the self-image of members in the group being discriminated against.
Bullying is an ongoing problem in our society that will difficult to control. With so many kinds of bullying, some forms may be overlooked. When people think of bullying they think of aggression and the tuff kid beating up the nerd, but now since this is such a digital age, cyber bullying is another large topic. But it’s the simplest kind of bullying that are the most unnoticed and perhaps the most common in our society today.
After watching the YouTube video, “Microaggressions in Everyday Life” I learned a type of bullying that I never knew existed and I’m sure many people don’t either. This video really opened my eyes to all the “smaller” types of bullying that goes unnoticed. Although this could be classified as a less insignificant type of bullying, it’s bullying regardless. Every type of bullying hurts and is unacceptable. Microaggression is perhaps one of the easiest types of bully as far as I know. Microaggression is usually a non-physical act that goes unnoticed; it can be behavioral, verbal, or environmental. People make verbal slurs or actions shown in the video where the woman clenched her purse at an African American male every single day. Most of the time people don’t intentionally mean to or even realize what they are doing.
Microaggression and Cyber-bullying are two types of bullying in our society today; cyber-bullying is mostly done by youth though. Although I say this it does not mean Adults do not partake in this type of bullying, it’s just more of the younger generations that take to this form of bullying. Cyber-bullying is done through the use of technology to deliberately harm or harass an individual or group of individuals. The difference between Cyber-bullying and Microaggression is that Microaggression is done without though and is usually unintentional. It is based of stereotypes placed forth in our society and is provoked in a manipulated way.
Now that I’m aware of what Microaggression is and how easily it can be overlooked I now realize how much it is used in our society. For anyone that is a constant Facebook user (any university student), Microaggression is plaster all over photos, groups, timelines, you name and it’s there. A few incidents come to mind when I think of where I have seen Microaggression. I’m from Markham, which is a highly populated ethnic city where predominately on the Asian decent. I hear all the time people commenting to my Asian friends “oh you drive pretty well for an Asian.” This is a perfect example of Microaggression and how someone is making a stereotypically comment and ultimately insulting the individual. This type of discrimination occurs all the time but do people really notice it?
Like Derald Wing Sue said we need to make the invisible, visible. Society needs to recognize that there are other forms of bullying rather than the traditional “physical” type the media only focuses on. Individuals need to be aware that Microaggression is a form of bullying that is although low-key, it is nonetheless a form of bullying that can insult someone deeply. Society needs to end this and stand up and realize that there are many types of bullying and no matter how small it may be; you never know how much that comment or action could offend an individual.
Dr. Derald Wing Sue of Columbia University define micro-aggressions as everyday insults that color, women, LGBT populations may experience on a daily basis. Looking at these micro-aggression’s from the outside, they may seem to be compliments, but when taking a closer look, there is a hidden meaning behind these compliments and they really are insults. These acts of micro-aggressions can be seen as bullying. Micro-aggressions are something that can be easily overlooked, therefore it’s important to take a closer look to try and understand the negative effect that this type of bullying can have.
Micro-aggression is used, to take control of the environment. It is actually very detrimental because it’s something many people are not aware of and it is hard to catch. Not only that, but what makes it so terrible is that it’s so easy to deny as well. While someone may get extremely hurt by this type of bullying, when brought up to authorities, it is very simple to deny. Another type of bullying to discuss is cyber bullying. This is another type of bullying that is rampant in our society, and when used together, these two types of bullying can be very detrimental.
Cyber bullying, is the act of using technology to bully someone through the internet. This can take place through texting, email, social networks, and many other types of online communication. When used together, they can be very harmful especially through social media. This can result in many other people witnessing the bullying and not even realizing it is taking place. An example would be posting something such as “you are very pretty…for a dark girl”, while this may sound like a compliment, it clearly is not and really is a strong form of bullying. Not only that, but one of the main problems with social media is that it allows anyone to become anonymous and hide there true identity. Without the repercussions of having a face associated with your actions, this can result in many people saying extremely hurtful things. Websites provide an opportunity for many different micro-aggression cases to happen.
Before learning more about micro-aggressions, it’s something that I didn’t even know existed. After learning about it, I realized that it’s something that you can even be a part of on a daily basis, without even realizing what you had just done. Whether knowingly or unknowingly taking part in a form of micro aggression, it’s clear that it’s something that one must become more aware of. By learning more about micro-aggression, one can start to take measurable steps towards preventing it whether in the workplace, school yard or really any of the many other places that micro-aggression takes place on a daily basis.
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