Privilege and its blinding effect on microaggression


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Burrows

Microaggressions – remarks made with negative or discriminatory implications – are phrases that are quick to leave a scar but slow to heal, and are entirely too common in our world today.

Walking across campus, you are most likely to hear a few of these microaggressions. Some of us have become so accustomed to these stereotypical racial, ethnic,  gender and sexual slurs that we no longer even recognize them for what they are: hurtful and violent attacks on entire populations of people.

Microaggressions are both rooted in and also work to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and stigmas that have a direct effect in the marginalization of others.

Contrary to what most believe, microaggressions are often expressions without conscious choice of the user, but it is still important to become conscious of such insensitivity so that we can respect and not offend those around us.

Privilege is one of the ideas that backs up microaggression, often unknowingly. Privilege is, simply put, an advantage or special right a certain group of people holds.

Privilege should not be envisioned as a white person or a straight person, but instead we need to view privilege as a spectrum. Its range reaches across a broad spectrum of the global population, regarding the race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation of a person.

There are things about all of us that speak of our privilege, and also the lack thereof. That is why it is important to inquire of your own privilege in the world, and be knowledgeable and sensitive to those who land on a different scale of the privilege spectrum.

“That’s so gay!” should not be an exclamation used to describe something unfortunate or unsatisfactory.

Telling an African American that they “sound white” is not okay either; neither is asking an Asian-American which country they come from; or telling a woman to “get back in the kitchen.”

All of these phrases are examples of microaggression that negatively impact our entire community.

Last week, Appalachian’s Young Life College chapter, a Christian ministry organization, held a controversial “Thug Life” party, where students were encouraged to dress up in snapbacks and over-sized T-shirts.

This event upset many individuals who found its conduct extremely insensitive.

Not only do the people we offend with these outbursts suffer, but we suffer as well. We suffer because stigmas that evolve from our ignorance of privilege are blinding us from encountering the true beauty of diversity.

When we are microaggressive, we are missing out on what can be offered to us as a world through each other.

Burrows, a freshman journalism major from Mint Hill, in an opinion writer.

STORY: Lauren Burrows, Opinion Writer