Micro-aggression Stories at Virginia Tech
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Micro-aggressions are everyday verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs or insults that have a negative long-term impact. Many individuals who experience micro-aggressions have learned to ignore them out of necessity, but their cumulative effect can lead to frustration, anger, conflict, isolation, and withdrawal. Over time, these effects can create a negative climate where faculty, staff, and students feel unwelcome and are unable to thrive. This exhibition includes a series of fictionalized stories based on narratives submitted by CAUS faculty, staff, and students about how microaggressions impact their daily lives. The stories include micro-aggressions focused on race, ethnicity, gender, age, mental health, and political affiliation. They include examples that result from explicit bias or from systematic discrimination and most stories include micro-aggressions that result from unconscious bias. Our intent with this project is for exhibition visitors to see themselves and their own experiences in the stories, which we hope will lead to awareness and open conversations. These conversations can be awkward and difficult; but very necessary. It’s opening a dialogue and having the courage to participate. It’s realizing what we say matters; and acknowledging what is said to us, affects us. This exhibition demonstrates that micro-aggressions are a shared experience for most people. Regardless of who you are, what you believe or where you’re from, you’ve probably been a micro-aggressor and have been micro-aggressed. This shared experience brings us all together, which is a good place to start the conversation.