Micro-aggressions in the workplace

Photo courtesy of Raiyana Malone

Just days into 2020, a video surfaced on Twitter of a young Black woman in corporate America standing among her white counterparts as they poke and prod her natural hair.

This video gained millions of views, with thousands of people commenting whether she handled the situation properly.

The reason why there are so many differing opinions surrounding the video is because of this widely circulated term called a micro-aggression. Put simply, a micro-aggression is a brief verbal or nonverbal gesture that results in humiliation towards a minority.

Whether we realize it or not, micro-aggressions are more common than we admit and will increase as we navigate into different industries and spaces.

Students who attend Historically Black Colleges or Universities are less likely to experience these encounters while in college since the majority of students attending the HBCU are minorities.

Unfortunately, this is America and the real-world in which most of us are about to venture out often reflects the sentiments and actions made in the video.

As young, and eager Black college students figuring out how to approach situations that might make us uncomfortable without compromising ourselves or our careers is important.

Similar to any situation, the first step is to always know yourself. Keep close in mind your values and what you don’t tolerate. Be aware of how you deal with conflicts with others in your daily life.

Corporate settings should be no different. Knowing who you are can also give you the confidence to speak up. Someone’s lack of understanding should not impact your sense of identity.

Humans are complex individuals and we all communicate differently. There’s nothing wrong with pulling those who have wronged you aside and letting them know how and why what they have done is offensive.

With that being said, it is not your responsibility to be someone’s “micro-aggression guide for dummies,” but it is your responsibility to protect your peace of mind.

It is 2020 and social media has been a growing powerful tool in giving everyone a voice. A simple post can make or break a business and its employees. Because of that, many companies are making a push to be more inclusive.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your superiors and let them know if you’re uncomfortable or if the company’s values aren’t being enforced. Your voice matters.