The Effects of Microaggression

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~Trigger Warning~
If you’re easily offended, then don’t continue to read this post. I’m going to assume if you keep reading from this point on that you can handle it. I don’t want to have to delete or block anyone who decides to leave a nasty comment. Please let this be your warning and know if I see any hateful comments, I’ll remove them. I’m all for having constructive discussions, but I won’t tolerate any bullying on my platform. Okay, now on with the show!

By now, I’m sure you have either seen or heard about the interview that Oprah had with Harry and Meghan. Don’t worry; I’m not going to do a full recap on it as you can research that on your own if you like. I want to highlight a point made and use that as a basis of this post today—the topic of microaggression is prevalent throughout the interview. I saw countless people say online, why didn’t Kate speak up and clear the air since the tabloids got the story all wrong. Yes, you can make the argument that Kate was under the same pressure as Meghan, and she was unable to speak up. However, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say even if she could speak up; I doubt that she would. It benefited Kate for the media to go after Meghan. At that point, a light bulb went off in my head. Is this the same thought some white women have when they do this to black women in the workplace? Are you triggered yet? I said to stop reading, but since you’re here, hear me out before you go nuclear on me.

The example of microaggression that I’m going to use in this post is related to the workplace. Of course, this in no way invalidates the other instances different people may face. Microaggression impacts many people in a variety of ways. I would be dishonest if I discussed an example in this post that I don’t personally have a frame of reference. I sympathize with Meghan so much in that Kate situation because the same thing happened to me years ago. I had people come to me one on one to defend me, but when I needed it, most of those same people were silent. I only needed one person to come to my aid, but I never received that support.

I learned a lot from that situation and ensured that I’ll never be in that position ever again. There are so many stereotypes that black women deal with daily at work. For example, if my voice goes up an octave, I can be labeled aggressive, and if I’m too forthcoming on a project, I can be deemed difficult at work. Couple this with the fact of me being a direct person, I was mislabeled often. Also, before someone says, maybe it was me, and microaggression isn’t real. I had a manager who is a white man tell me if I were white, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I had to do a lot of internal work to get to the person I am today. I couldn’t beat the system, so I had to learn how to play the game to further my career. It was necessary to change parts of myself to lessen the impact that microaggression would’ve had on my work life.

Now the concept of code-switching comes into play. That is how I survive in corporate America after all these years. Let me break down code-switching if you aren’t familiar with the term. It means to conform to your particular environment. For example, I noticed how people spoke, topics of interest, and the most notable projects at work that would garner the most awareness. I needed to be a team player and not labeled as a threat to the organization—any and every opportunity that came my way; I took advantage. I continue to wear this mask at work because I know what happens if I experience the other label. That is an experience I don’t want to deal with again, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Honestly, I wonder at times what the cost is? Do people like the real me or the person that I’m choosing to portray? That doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person to be around—quite the opposite. I’m a handful but the most fun you’ll ever have in your life. I understand it’s a professional environment; however, I’m not a robot. But I feel that to survive at work, I had to become a caricature of what would allow me to become accepted. I’m unable to show up as myself as it’s deemed unworthy due to being different. That is the downside of microaggression. It makes it so you can’t show up as your authentic self due to preconceived notions.

That explains why some people decide to work for themselves because they’re tired of pretending. Working in an environment where everyone looks and acts the same is tiring. That completely goes against the idea of diversity. There can’t be true diversity of thought if one person being different threatens everything to collapse. If you see something, you have to call it out. Things will never get better if people continue on the sidelines and let things slide. There is a thing called reciprocity in life, and if I’m not getting it from you, then don’t expect it from me. When something happens to you, but you weren’t interested in helping others, don’t have your hand out now. I’m grateful for this blog because I would go crazy otherwise. Until I can start my own, this is my creative outlet to get out what I want when I can’t say it in other places. I hope you walk away from this post, knowing microaggression is factual, and code-switching is a slippery slope to nowhere. Avoid at all costs and remove both whenever possible.

I’ll chat with you all in the next one, and don’t forget to check out the discussion question before you go.

How has microaggression impacted you, and what steps have you taken to minimize its impact?

Career Advancement

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I’m at a crossroads currently within my career. I want to move to the next level but unsure of how to get there. My current team doesn’t have any job opportunities at the moment. That is furthering my confusion on the next steps that I should take. I had to sit with myself to come up with solutions to improve my current situation. I came up with a list of four things that I employed right now to help improve my career prospects. I hope that this list works for you, or in the comment section below, you can tell me what tips you will use or which ones you currently use.

Hire a Career Coach

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Hiring a career coach may or may not work for everyone, but it was a game-changer for me. It has been years since I last applied for positions. I wasn’t sure what employers were looking for in terms of a resume. I needed help updating my resume properly, interviewing skills, job searches, and working on past issues that could impact me from getting hired (confidence & mental health issues). A lot has changed since I last interviewed, and the knowledge that I gained was a tremendous help. My resume look 100% times better. That reminds me that I need to make an update to my Linkedln page to reflect the recent changes I made. I started going on job interviews. I haven’t gotten the jobs that I’ve wanted, but I’m making significant progress. I know the right position will come along, but in the meantime, I won’t stop looking for the next opportunity.

Updated My Wardrobe

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You know what they say dress for success or dress for the job you want. Making new tweaks to my clothes not only empowered me gave me new-found confidence but also people took me more seriously. Let’s be honest people judge your appearance. Based on your clothes, if you don’t look presentable, then you’re perceived as unreliable and disingenuous. As superficial as it sounds, if you don’t dress the part, then you won’t get the part. With that in mind, don’t give anyone any reason to use anything against you. There are plenty of budget-friendly places you can use to update your wardrobe as necessary.

Invest in Yourself

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I started to educate myself while reading more books and looking into certifications to further my career. One book that helped me the most is called ” 7 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective People.” I realized that I needed to make myself better for this next chapter in my life. I need to work on my time management skills and setting my goals/expectations more effectively. If you need more information on this, there’s so much information available at your fingertips. There’s no excuse for working yourself to exhaustion when you could be bettering yourself in the process. Don’t be afraid to change things about yourself that may be holding you back. We all have to be continually improving ourselves as that’s what’s going to help us win.

Ask for Honest Feedback

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I understand that harsh criticism from others can be triggering. However, if we don’t receive honest feedback, we won’t be able to make adjustments. For example, the feedback I received over a year ago from a review stated I needed to work on my tone when I would speak with people at work. Unfortunately, microaggression is a real thing (research that if you aren’t familiar with the term), so when someone who looks like me says something that can appear aggressive, it’s out of context. If I were a man, it would be an utterly different story. I realized this could be holding me back from moving forward. It took a year to work on this, but I’m pleased to report that in my latest review, my efforts paid off. It was a good feeling to know that my hard work was acknowledged. Had I not asked for the feedback, I would’ve still been doing something wrong. Behind close doors, that would’ve been the reason for me not to achieve a promotion. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but doing the work on the back end is the difference between advancement vs. stagnation. You want to put your best foot forward, and you need to know if anything is preventing that from occurring.

Let’s get the discussion going. Let me know in the comment section below what your thoughts are. What steps will you take, or what steps have you taken to make improvements?

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