Fun with Childhood Microaggressions!
This semester I’m taking a women’s studies class that’s been really interesting. The other day we began a discussion about privilege. You know I was all over it like white on rice. One girl mentioned that microaggressions play an important role in privilege, in that those who are advantaged usually never experience microaggressions that the disadvantaged groups receive. Of course I shared my most memorable example of a microaggression in my life, and it went a little something like this:
Me: When I was around 10 or 11 my mother and I were in a Starbucks, waiting in line to place our order. I was getting really tired of waiting, so I was kind of leaning on her and hugging her at the same time. In response, a man got very upset with us, as he mistook us for a lesbian couple. My mother and I. A lesbian couple. I was 11. I can’t stress these details enough.
My teacher, visibly astonished: I don’t think that’s a microaggression, I think that is full on aggression. Macro aggression. Is that normal?
Situations like this are so common for mixed people! It got me to thinking: hey, I should share some other instances in which people just didn’t understand. Maybe other people will relate.
Here we go!
The Gay Couple in McDonald's
A couple years ago, my uncles came to Maryland to visit. I think it was around October, because that’s when we usually have big family get-togethers. My two uncles took me to get McDonald’s. We were sitting down eating our lunch when I began to notice…the stares. (Dun. Dun. DUN.)
Some people smiled at me in “that way.”
(You know, that look that says, “Look at me, I’m completely okay with your lifestyle choices. No really. I’m not smiling sympathetically. Not even a little.”)
Other people just looked grossed out. Being no stranger to the ignorance, I knew that people assumed my two white uncles were a gay couple, and I was their adopted daughter. When we got back to the car I told my uncles that they made a beautiful couple in there. They had no clue what I was talking about. I thought they’d noticed the stares too, but it’s not really something you look for unless you’ve experienced it before. Once I explained it we pretty much just laughed the entire way home.
Wait, people are like this in Hawaii?
When my parents and I went to Hawaii some time ago, we decided to see a movie. (Of all the things to do in Hawaii, I know. But trust me, we’d climbed a volcano like that same day. It evens out.) My mom had the movie tickets and my hand in hers as my dad trailed behind holding the popcorn, and we made our way to the theater. My mom handed the ticket person three movie tickets.
The person let my mom through and physically stood between us, causing my mom to let go of my hand.
“You need a ticket to go in,” the attendant said.
I wish I had some snappy comeback for that one, now that I’m thinking of it. Something like “Yeah, and you’re holding it,” while I brush past her coolly. In reality I probably clammed up and stammered like I normally do. Luckily my dad caught up and said, “My wife just gave you our tickets.” The lady turned around to look at my mom, who was mildly irritated at this whole encounter. My mom had to say, “They’re with me.” Then the attendant let us see in.
Come on people. It’s common sense. She could’ve literally looked down, counted the tickets, and let in the next three people. The man could have understood I was a child, and it was more likely the woman I was hugging was my guardian rather than my lover.
Whatever, I’m over it. Clearly.
Anyways, it’s always important to share and listen to others’ experiences to get a wider and more inclusive worldview. That’s the whole reason I made this website! Hopefully all of my microaggression stories will go towards something useful instead of making me get a little mad every time I remember.
That’s all I’ve got for today, but be sure to like, share, and comment below- I love feedback. Also check out my articles at college magazine, and my most recent contribution to the book Left Swipes & Love: A Millennial’s Guide to Dating, Hookups, and Tinder. (Which is currently number one on the Best Seller's List!)