Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

1As a result of living in China there are a number of microagressions I come across on a daily basis and likewise witness Chinese people coming across microagressions daily too.

China is very well-known for shopping and getting really good deals if you bargain. There is a shopping complex not far from my home that you can wheel and deal good bargains for almost next to nothing. I remember my first experience when going to this huge shopping complex, I was quite startled, irritated and taken aback when my friends and I were called “Hey missy come shop”. At one stage I looked at a lady and said “I am not missy, I am a lady.” When I think of the word “missy” I cringe and do not think of wonderful images of what a “missy” is and since I was a little girl was taught it is unkind and impolite to call someone a “missy” as in one of the languages in South Africa “missy” is a very derogative word.

When looking back at this happening to me many times whilst shopping I now laugh and every time I go shopping and I am told “Hey missy come shop” I reply ” Say lady, rather than missy” and most vendors do understand what I am saying. Having said that I perceive that microagression certainly comes from a place of supremacy, misconceptions, oblivion and a place of they don’t know any better. Therefore I believe that discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping come from these places too, however can be deliberate as well. I believe that in order for us to overcome discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping is through educating and correcting those around us in a gentle and kind manner to let them know that it is unacceptable, hurtful and to walk in the shoes of those who we criticize.




3 thoughts on “Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

  1. Justine,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with microaggression. I think it is wonderful that you had the nerve to tell others how it was making you feel. I have said throughout this week that I think we should speak up more often. I know that if I have ever said anything that offended someone unintentionally I would want to know it. I would never want to do it again. Good for you!


  2. Hello Justine,

    I agree with you that most times microaggression results from misconceptions and ignorance too. This is because some of the misinformation have been inherited without knowledge of the origin. I am sure that the shop owners calling you “missy’ do not know the origin of the title. They just heard someone else saying it and decided to use it too. over history human race have been socialized into a society in which there exist individual, institutional and societal racism. Social Psychologists argue that due to this cultural conditioning processes we are prone to some form of inherited racial biases of our forebears. Banerjee and Jack Dovidio (Laureate Education, 2011) found that about 85% of white Americans harbour racial biases and stereotypes that are outside their level of awareness.
    In your case it was good that instead of resorting to anger and violence, you took time to enlighten the shop owner.


    Laureate Education (2011). Microaggressions in everyday life [Video file]. Retrieved from


  3. Justine,
    I did not realize that you live in China. I love that you tell the vendors to call you “lady” instead of “missy.” I believe that there are numerous misconceptions in the words used to describe or name a woman. The names used may be misconstrued in various areas of the world. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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