Is It a Micro-aggression or Oversensitivity?

Angela Tucker

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A few months ago, a respected colleague remarked to me that he’d noticed that I’ve chosen to “…wear a nappy hairstyle.” This comment was made in a calm, matter-of-fact tone in front of a large class. To him, a white-male, it was a friendly observation of my afro textured hair.  To me, it was a micro-aggression. My testosterone surged and I immediately flashed back to the disgraced Mr. Don Imus. I felt angry and humiliated – but no one else seemed to notice – to others it was a seemingly normal interaction, failing to recognize that the word nappy conveys a demeaning message toward a disenfranchised group.  Even though no harm or malice was intended by the comment, I made the decision to initiate a request for an apology. My request was greeted with defensiveness, surprise and an inquiry as to my fixation on this minor slight. The perpetrators style of apologizing was code for “I didn’t realize…

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