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?

Quarantine Life Part 3: Embracing Change

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I understand that people need things to return to normal. Keep in mind our previous way of life wasn’t all that glamorous. We worked long hours, hardly spent time with family, gave away our dreams, and for some trying to keep up with the Joneses. This quarantine time has been very reflective for me, reflecting on my life pre-COVID to now. I don’t want things to go back to how they were. Yes, I’m looking forward to getting back outside, but I want things to be different. In the coming paragraphs, I’m going to discuss why change after the COVID pandemic is a good thing and what I expect to change. With the current reset, we’ve now is the perfect time to examine our lives to see what changes we can make for the better. 

Family Time

I’m close to my family, but if I’m honest, we could be spending more time together. I can’t remember the last time I’ve spoken to my family this much. We’ve been reaching out more via phone calls and video chats. We even made plans to do more traveling and spend more time together very soon. This ordeal made us realize now more than ever the importance of family. Having loved ones who genuinely care for you is so amazing. You have to embrace and cherish those moments. Anytime that we get to spend together is a blessing that we mustn’t take for granted. Life is fleeting, and this quarantine is proving that every day. Live in the moment for as long as you can and let go of unnecessary baggage. Move forward in love is the best option and provides a more fulfilling life. 

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Work/Life Balance

Before COVID, I was working a lot. Not as much as I’ve been in the past but enough to interfere with my life. Cue in traveling, which helped to break up the tedious daily routine. I would have fun while enjoying a break from work. Now during this quarantine, I’ve had time to reflect on the things that matter in this world. Honestly, work is not as important as your life. Anyone working until oblivion makes no sense, especially since these companies will replace you in a heartbeat. Supporting yourself and your family is critical, but there needs to be a balance. Take those vacations, sick, and personal days. Work will be there once you return. Burning yourself out will only cause resentment, depression, and anger into your life. You don’t want to look back on what you should’ve done. There are no do-overs in life, so it’s best to live it to the fullest. 

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Dream Chaser

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my heart as I believed that I could never make a living doing what I loved. Instead, I took up a more practical skill to make an honest living. The projections that others put on you is more of a reflection of themselves than you. I wish I would’ve listened and followed my gut instinct years ago. My regret as far as writing goes is that I should’ve started sooner. Anyway, it’s better late than never. I’m telling you that narrative as an example to chase your dreams. Sure, people will think you’re out of your mind, but so what? Do you want to look back on your life and wish, or do you want to live for you now? That’s your only option as you can’t go after your dreams and please people. If people are going to be mad, at least be winning at your goals. During this quarantine, you see how quickly things can change in a matter of minutes. Chase your dreams with the highest amount of urgency and give people something to discuss. 

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Love Unapologetically

One thing that saddens me during this time is the lack of empathy for others. I hear people say I don’t know anyone impacted, so the virus isn’t that serious. That is beyond disrespectful to the men and women who risk their lives daily as essential employees. I know four people who suffered from COVID, and one person still battling it. I never thought I would live in a world where this would be the norm. As a human being, you need to show compassion to others. You are blessed not to know anyone personally, but don’t be miserable about it to others. Also, let’s please learn to celebrate someone else’s successes. The number of negative responses I see regarding someone saying they purchased a new home, a new promotion, etc. is unwarranted. Have some of you lost your humanity? That’s why things aren’t going right for you because you can’t be happy for others. When someone is in their winning season, cheer them on. I’m sure you want the same thing when it’s your turn. Learn to be happy for others and watch how you become blessed—being mean spirited blocks your happiness every time. Don’t be afraid to give and spread love. Love is something that we all can’t get enough of, and it’s best when shared among many people. 

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That concludes the last part of my quarantine life series. I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I had fun writing it. I understand how easy it is to look at this from a negative vantage point. My intention with creating this series was to show the positive aspects during the quarantine life. This reset button, as I like to call it, allows us to reevaluate our lives for the better. I understand the difficulties many are facing, and I pray that things turn around very soon. I hope that this series gave you some solace of better days ahead. If I learned anything, it’s that perception is everything. If I perceive it isn’t good, then it is. However, if I believe things are lovely, then they are. As the old saying goes, perception is reality. It’s up to you which reality you want to represent you. 

Don’t forget to check out the discussion question before you go, and I’ll see you next time!

What do you want to change or stay the same after quarantine? Why or why not?