Microaggressions. Trigger warnings. Safe spaces. They’re all topics of discussion during orientation at colleges around the country.
They try to explain to incoming freshmen – or, excuse me, first-year students – how microaggressions and white male privilege have crept into every aspect of society today, including our language. They explain how to do avoid “problematic” words and phrases, subtle stereotypes, and how to intervene when witnessing others committing micro aggressions.
We can add this to the ever-growing list of microaggressive words and phrases: “You guys.”
‘You guys’ is a microaggression against women, because it makes them feel excluded. At least according to Sheree Marlowe. She’s the chief diversity officer at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
So, if ‘you guys’ is problematic, should we be all-inclusive and just say ‘you people?’ Actually, don’t say that. We all know that’s really racist. “What do you mean ‘you people?’”
This recent addition to the microaggression list was reported on by the New York Times. It was one of several. Here are a couple others:
Among her other tips: Don’t ask an Asian student you don’t know for help on your math homework or randomly ask a black student if he plays basketball. Both questions make assumptions based on stereotypes.
There are three types of microaggressions (write these down – there will be a quiz later): Verbal, non-verbal, and environmental.
The two examples cited above would be examples of verbal microaggressions. Ms. Marlowe gave this as an example of a non-verbal microaggression: “[W]hen a white woman clutches her purse as a black or Latino person approaches.”
And how about the environmental one? “On your first day of class, you enter the chemistry building, and all of the pictures on the wall are scientists who are white and male,” Ms. Marlow explained during her 2-hour presentation in front of over 500 students. “If you’re a female, or you just don’t identify as a white male, that space automatically shows that you’re not represented.”
That’s an environmental microaggression.
This is the stuff kids are getting their first week of college these days – basically showing white males how to properly tiptoe around people who are not white males such that no one (except white males of course) are ever offended.
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