Rae’s Rules to Remember #12: Microaggressions

Definition of a microaggression:

  • a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype (Dictionary.com)
  • 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 (psychologytoday.com)

Why am I writing about microaggressions? Because, quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing them.

Sometimes the person using a microaggression may think that they are being nice, inclusive, or toning down an insult. To be totally honest, you’re just making it worse. Here are a few examples of microaggressions that my friends and I have heard and why they are NOT okay:

“You’re too pretty to be gay” – One of my friends gets this one a lot. Yes, they did say that she is pretty, so what’s the problem? The fact that people think that your sexual orientation determines your level of attractiveness. This statement basically says “gay people aren’t supposed to be good looking” Never tell someone that they are “too pretty” to be themselves.

“You don’t talk like a black girl” – I actually got this a lot growing up. It was either this or “You sound white” Excuse you? No. I sound normal. Just because I enunciate and speak in full sentences doesn’t that I “talk white” it means that I enunciate and speak in full sentences. Stop trying to fit me into a stereotype and accept that this is how I am. Stereotypes aren’t compliments.

“You’re pretty for an Asian/Black/Latino girl” – So what you’re basically saying is that because I’m not a certain ethnicity, you’re surprised that I’m pretty? So in your head only certain races can be deemed attractive? Do you realize how freaking stupid that sounds?

“What are you mixed with?”  – My sister and I both got this one a lot. Basically we were asked this because our appearances didn’t match that of a “typical” African-American female, which makes no sense whatsoever, because even within the same race or ethnicity, women come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

“There’s nothing wrong with being gay, just keep that away from me” – What? First of all, being a member of the LGBTQ community is not contgious.It’s not like it a gay person gets to close to you you’ll “catch the gayness.” Grow up. If it’s not a problem to you, then why do you feel the need to distance yourself?

“For a girl, you’re really athletic” – In what world are women not athletic? Yes, most (but not all) men will be stronger than women, have more muscle mass, and are able to lift heavier. At the end of the day, it really just depends on the way your body is built. Please get it out of your head that all women are petite and fragile.Yeah, some women are petite and there’s nothing wrong with that, but stop assuming that we’re so weak that we can’t even play sports.

“Are you sure you can carry that?” – People usually say this after I’ve already told them that I don’t need help. I may only be 5 feet but I am stronger than I look. Stop underestimating me. Wait, for me to tell you that I need help, don’t just assume that I do.

“I don’t mean to sound racist/sexist/homophobic/offensive, but…” – Prefacing something with this phrase does nothing but acknowledge the fact that you know you are going to say something racist/sexist/homophobic/offensive. So just don’t do it.

“I’m colorblind/I don’t see color” – This one probably pisses me off the most. I get it, you think that this statement is inclusive and that you’re saying that the color of people’s skin doesn’t affect how you view or treat them. If that’s what you want to say, then just say that. When you say that you “don’t see race” you’re not appreciating the diversity of the people around you, instead it could be interpreted as you denying to acknowledge a part of someone’s identity. Don’t say that you can’t see the color of someone’s skin (obviously you can) just say that it doesn’t change your view of them.

There are millions of other microaggressions that people hear everyday and the bottom line is, it needs to stop. To combat this a little, an organization that I was a part of on campus did a photo campaign. The organization is called Bridging the Gap and we asked people to point out the microaggressions and stereotypes that have been posed against them. I don’t have the pictures anymore, but I typed some of the things that people said below:

  • Just because I’m bisexual, doesn’t mean I’m comfused
  • Just because I’m an immigrant, doesn’t mean I can’t speak English
  • Just because I’m gay, doesn’t mean that I want to be your shopping buddy
  • Just because I’m Hispanic, doesn’t mean I’m Mexican
  • Just because I’m from Ethiopia, doesn’t mean I’m starving
  • Just because I coach/teach, doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning
  • Just because I’m Christian, doesn’t mean I’m closed-minded
  • Just because I’m black, doesn’t mean I’m a walking stereotype
  • Just because I’m a guy, doesn’t mean I can’t cook
  • Just because I have tattoos and piercings, doesn’t mean I’m a bad person
  • Just because I’m a college kid, doesn’t mean I like to drink
  • Just because I’m in a sorority, doesn’t mean I’m a crazy party girl
  • Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean I’m inferior
  • Just because I’m blonde, doesn’t mean I’m dumb

This isn’t even half of it, but I think you get the point.

Moral of the Story: Think before you speak and stop trying to use microaggressions as compliments.


Author: Bookmark Chronicles

Hi! I'm Rae. 24. Avid Reader. Book Blogger. Intersectional Feminist. Gryffinclaw. Coffee & Tea Lover.

20 thoughts on “Rae’s Rules to Remember #12: Microaggressions”

  1. I really like this post, Rae, and know where you’re coming from. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way (because I really don’t mean it in a cruel way), but I think sometimes microargressions are thought even when people don’t mean them. The reason I say this is because I think that with so many stereotypes floating around, it’s hard for them not to pop in our heads, even if we don’t mean them!

    I hope I can explain this. I’m not racist or prejudice, but I think that because so many people say and think prejudice things and comments, sometimes they tend to, like I said, pop into someone’s head – even if we don’t believe them. I think sometimes we (even I) have to remind myself that these stereotypes aren’t always true and that I KNOW that.

    I actually blame society. For so many years there have been people who have really, honest to God, thought that these stereotypes were true. Even though they’re not accurate, I think because of them being said so much, even those of us who don’t believe them sometimes hear ourselves thinking them…and that’s horrible. I think you’re right, people need to stop saying these things because they are NOT true! The more they are said, the more people will believe them and that’s the last thing we can allow.

    I hope you realize that I don’t believe these racist/prejudice/stereotypical things. I’m simply stating that due to the widespread belief in stereotypes, it sometimes manages to sneak into the minds and hearts of even the most unprejudice/racist of individuals. I hope that makes sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get what you’re saying however, thinking them and saying them are two different things. And if you’re thinking about something that you may think is a stereotype or could be offensive the best thing to do would be to ask someone who would know that you really do mean well.
      I also think that if you don’t believe them then you shouldn’t be saying them. It’s one thing to think it and then mentally correct yourself but if someone says a stereotype out loud and then claims that they don’t actually believe it I’m not going to believe them.
      I also disagree with blaming society because many people will agree that our society is pretty messed up and if someone does believe that then (I personally think) that you should be able to determine which “societal standards” are wrong and fueled by false assumptions and stereotypes. Again it’s possible to think them but catching yourself and saying it to someone and offending them are different.
      Like I said, I get where you’re coming from but I personally try to be very cautious of things that I think may hurt others because as a feminsit I feel that I have to. It’s definitely easier said than done and sometimes you have to slowly train yourself not to think that way but I think it is possible to sort of block those thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally agree with you! I think when people say racist/prejudice/stereotypical things, they totally mean them. What I meant is that I think sometimes, everyone thinks things that they know aren’t true. I know there have been times when a thought comes into my head and I catch myself, reminding myself that it’s simply a stereotype, not a fact or truth.

        What I meant by blaming society, is that so many people have said and believed these thoughts, that I think that even though people don’t believe them, they sometimes just pop into our minds. I think instead of listening to others, we have to discover the truth for ourselves – that personality, etc. does not depend on the color of someone’s skin or whether or not they’re straight or gay, but rather who the person is deep down.


        1. Yeah, I agree that if you think it and correct yourself then you’re at least, on your way to being able to block out thoughts like that.
          I still disagree with blaming society though. Yes a lot of people have these thoughts but that doesn’t make it okay (not saying that you said that) but still basing thoughts off of societal standards in a society like this isn’t exactly the best thing to do. I also think its a conscious chose to choose for yourself what’s right and wrong and instead of listening to society

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I totally agree. I’m sorry that I was misunderstood about the society thing. I merely meant that the reason sometimes the thoughts come into your head in the first place is due to society. What one does with those thoughts are absolutely the individual’s choice.


  2. I saw your list & I had to add a few of my own.

    Anyone else have some good ones??

    Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean I’m promiscuous.
    Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean I can’t take care of my kids.
    Just because I’m Muslim/Middle Eastern doesn’t mean I’m a terrorist or I think that women should act subserviently/cover up.
    Just because I’m Latinx/Hispanic doesn’t mean I’m here illegally.
    Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men/want a matriarchy.
    Just because I have tattoos & piercings (although this one, I’m sure, has also been asked of African-Americans more times than any human being could count) doesn’t mean I know where you can buy drugs.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I know!!! I’m sure I’ll come up with more (probably right after I turn the computer off for the night… which I should have done an hour ago…) or I’ll encounter one soon enough! Still…. the next time I do encounter one, I’ll be able to think of this post & smile. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Rae, this was spot on. Thank you. This needs to be addressed much more often, and worked to change as early as possible in a person’s life. For me, I received microaggressions starting in elementary school, mainly because I’m a girl. I have been accused of being part of the white privilege, which is completely true, but it still hurt when it was said. Also, I have been targeted because I am a Christian, and my attempts to share my faith as respectfully as possible were struck down quickly, and it was immensely disheartening.

    Something I’ve learned along the way, for roughly 28 years that I’ve been on this Earth, is to stop and really, really think before I speak. It’s been an incredibly difficult lesson, as I’ve always tended to speak my mind, but also attempt to be respectful.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! One of the administrators at my university did, “Just because I’m Christian doesn’t mean I’m closed-minded” That was a really good one!
      If I ever meet a woman who hasn’t been microagressed for being a girl I will be shocked!
      Privilege can be a difficult conversation sometimes. It’s important to make people aware and not blame them.
      That is good lesson to learn. It is hard but at least you’ve done it! Not everyone makes it to that point 🙂


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