I never thought of verbal missteps as microaggressions. The word, itself, is offensive. I learned about it on the Inspire Me Monday Link up, hosted by Anita Ojeda, where she’s posted an excellent article on the subject. She provides examples and explanations that made me want to explore this subject more.
The online Urban Dictionary says, “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”
This is a new word for me, one I’m both glad and sorry to learn. I am glad to be aware of the implication and sorry to have to accept the possibility that I could commit such a thing. Did you notice the word unintentional in the definition? We have both inter-racial and gay marriages in our family so I want to fully understand microaggression so that I can, in the Holy Spirit’s leading, 1) spot it and 2) appropriately address.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “Microaggressions can be based upon any group that is marginalized in this society [including] religion, disability, and social class.”
The fact that these microaggressions can be unintentionally released is unsettling. How can we avoid hurting someone?
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)
If it’s in there, it’s going to come out. The best way I know to guard one’s heart is to pray. Ask God to reveal what is in your heart and cleanse away any ugly institutional attitudes and societal overflows lurking there. The cleansing could be, probably will be, uncomfortable if not painful. I don’t want to believe that I have THAT in me but I’m willing to find out and to endure the pain.
Here’s the truth, I’m over 60. I was raised during the ’60s & ’70s during a time we now call civil unrest or rebellion. It was something I couldn’t begin to understand. Back then we called it “the riots” and there were many spanning that 20 years. It was frightening for a young person to watch on TV and hear about in our living rooms.
I’m no psychologist but it makes sense that the experiences of our youth are woven into the fabric of our adult attitudes. They frame our perspective and become the lens through which we view and navigate the world. Too few of us are just beginning to understand how cloudy that view is.
I’m hopeful that Millennials will clear that up for us. That some of that backward thinking will be corrected, but that doesn’t happen without doing the work. We must make a sincere effort to listen and learn so we may begin to fully understand how we hurt others in our carelessness, especially those in marginalized groups noted in the definitions above. Once we know the truth isn’t it careless to ignore it by saying we’ll try to be more aware of our words and actions? Don’t try, do!
Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (NIV)
Doesn’t knowing the truth give one the freedom to walk in it (John 8:32)? I pray that all generations will see that we don’t have to walk as we always have, carrying that old and wrong thinking into the next generation. There is a new path. Staying on the one covered over with roots and rocks of the past is a choice.
We must choose to do better.
Ephesians 5:6-10 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (NASB)
Which path are you choosing today?
Ephesians 5:15-16 Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (NASB)
I pray that we choose wisely.
Microaggression definition: https://www.urbandictionary.com/
Article: Microaggressions: More Than Just Race | Psychology Today www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/microaggressions…
List of civil unrest incidents: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_civil_unrest_in_the_United_States
Canva graphics, with a little help from the author.