About microagressions, without a doubt my least personal favorite will be the question I get asked by my friends whenever they hear me speak on the phone with my family back home. Excitedly, they ask if African is what I just spoke. I often wonder what language is called African, given that in Ghana alone, there are about 75 different ethnic groups that speak more than 50 different languages. To the credit of my inquirers, there is certainly a language called Afrikaans, the ‘s’ is however not silent, making it different from the word African, which describes people originating from the continent called Africa.
I don’t know why I don’t like this innocent inquiry and would prefer it if I get asked what language I just spoke rather than the inquirer presuming that it is ‘the’ African language. I think it is because back home in Ghana, one gets asked which tribe he or she belongs to, only after their pronunciation of words in another language sounds off. I think getting asked that question makes me feel incapable of speaking my own language after I get asked all the time where I am from, because I have an accent when I speak English. If I can’t speak English very well, by American standards, and I am unable to speak my own language too, where exactly do I belong?
Talking about microaggressions in class took my mind to the consequent impact on the persons who are ‘microagressed’. In my opinion, I think what microagressions do to its victims is, put a lot of fear in them and make them lose their self-confidence.
I visited Pittsfield, Massachussettes two weeks ago and decided to take a walk. I had my ear piece on and strolled confidently along the pedestrian walkway towards oncoming traffic. I came to a complete standstill when I saw a driver show me her middle finger as she drove past me. My initial response was to jump into the bush because automatically, I thought I deserved the middle finger because I was in the streets. After jumping into the bush and getting scratched by thorns, I realized that I was perfectly right where I was and that I got that treatment because of no apparent reason.
Imagine what I did immediately. I walked back home cutting my walk short because I felt unsafe and insecure. I think of myself as a very strong minded person and however, I walked back, retreating from my intended course. I wonder how many black women shut themselves in their homes, unable to go out because they are afraid that they might get hurt by some random racist….