Are they murdering our spirits? What do you think?
Microaggressions are poisonous comments, acts, and behaviors that may not kill your spirit in one dose, but if you consume it enough, it can kill you. We experience this on a daily basis, in all environments, and at times they are so subtle, we may question our own sanity. Am I really seeing this? Am I being to sensitive? Maybe they didn’t mean it!
These comments, acts and behaviors begin at an early age and they shape how the world views us and how we view ourselves. These experiences may stop us from speaking up, applying for that job, the types of relationships we have etc. To unlearn these experiences and live a healthy life in which you value who you truly are, we must unlearn what we have been taught, form our own definitions of who we are and represent, and build the courage to show up genuinely. This is not easy but it’s worth it.
In a manuscript called, We Deserve More Than This: Spirit Murdering and Resurrection in the Academy Wright-Mair and Pulido, state the importance of identifying our shared experiences and using them to build coalitions around common causes. What really resonates with me is when Wright-Mair and Pulido, explain the harm oppressive systems have on our minds, bodies, and souls. The term “spirit murdering”, seemed very theatrical to me and my initial reaction was to not take it seriously. However, my awareness has increased and I have physically experienced the effects trauma, can have on my body. I can now appreciate the harm institutions embracing oppressive systems have on racially minoritized people. “To have your spirit murdered is to feel a physical reaction that often results in hospitalizations, new medical diagnosis, and increased awareness around depleting mental health.” (Wright-Mair & Pulido, 2021, p. 116). In my own journey to self-love and acceptance, even when healing from past trauma, my body remembers the effects and I suffer from physical pain and other medical diagnoses.
I recently discussed this topic with a colleague and she pointed out this quote from Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist, “
“I do not use “microaggression” anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts—“ micro” and “aggression.” A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term “abuse” because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide. What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse. And I call the zero-tolerance policies preventing and punishing these abusers what they are: antiracist. Only racists shy away from the R-word—racism is steeped in denial.”
I agree with Kendi, now that I am aware of how my experiences have impacted my quality of life and have witnessed the full effects of these racial/prejudicial abusive acts have on others.
Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist. New York: One World, 2019
Wright-Mair, R., & Pulido, G. (2021, March). We Deserve More than This: Spirit Murdering and Resurrection in the Academy. Educational Foundations, 34(1), 110-131.
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RfwnibEd3A