Keep imagining grace from micro aggression!

Micro aggressions are everywhere especially in academia. Uncovering them is key. Last week in discussions with a colleague, we shared how this word manifests in workplace environment. Not because we didn’t know it has always existed in academia, but to see it in full display made us cringe. It begins with small acts of exclusion. So small they often go unnoticed. If you are listening you’ll notice. They are never overt or explicit. Never obvious or even recognizable at first. Subtlety is its defining element and receivers know when they see it. Yet they are so ingrained in everyday behavior beginning from the tone of voice we use to, to the gestures we make, the terms we use or even the people we publicly acknowledge, all of that combined make up the perfect storm for micro aggression. And to be on the receiving end, to listen as your whole being is dismissed, denied, or even diminished can be so debilitating except you know yourself well. That is, you see yourself clearly enough to recognize the stakes of inaction. Thus confronting your micro aggressor becomes the next logical step. And when you do, the actions you observed so keenly maybe explained away, denied, and once more dismissed as a figment of your own imagination. It’s for this reason I say why bother. Micro aggressors will be micro aggressors. You will never change them. But you can change yourself. Rather than dwell on their act, learn from it, even write about it. As Toni Morrison once wrote in Beloved, ‘the only grace you would have (even from a micro aggressor) is the grace you imagine.’ So imagine grace for yourself. See it, feel it, then have it for yourself. And when you do, healing from micro aggression will begin. Keep this in mind and learn so you don’t become one.

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