I’m learning lately that even some of the little things we say (and do) can be perpetuate certain negative attitudes or even misconceptions towards…

I’m learning lately that even some of the little things we say (and do) can be perpetuate certain negative attitudes or even misconceptions towards and about other people. Social scientists call this microaggressions. An example is when some people become on guard about their possessions when someone black is near them because they fear, subconsciously or not, that that person will steal their stuff. I’ve read in an article about how some people in the United States ask the question, “Where are you from?” to people who are not white because they assume that the person they’re talking to is a foreigner. The situation becomes really awkward for both people when the person who is allegedly a foreigner responds that they’re from such and such state and were born in a US town. That latter example reminds me of what happened to me a few years ago when I moved to a different school. Two of us in the class were sent to convey a message to one of the staff members by our teacher. When we found the person to which the message was addressed, she turned to my classmate and asked him whether I spoke English. She wouldn’t even look at me. I responded affirmatively and also very aggressively as that sort of thing seemed to keep happening to me. I don’t believe the woman meant to be offensive, but it still made me really frustrated because it kept happening so frequently (and as I soon realized, mostly to certain types of people). Years later, when I met a friend who is of Chinese heritage, I made the same assumptions about her: that English was not her native language, and that she was born somewhere in China. I found out she was born in Chicago. That was embarrassing. It’s these little things we say and do that help perpetuate these misconceptions or prejudices about people… – Allyson

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