by Dr. Christina M. Macalino, May 2021
Preferred Name – Miss, Misses, Doctor?
At the end of April 2021, I was texted a video of a Zoom meeting, a former Zoning Commissioner (Tony Collins, white male), refusing to address a college professor (AA female) by the name doctor, and instead referring to her as misses even though she repeatedly corrected him to refer to her as Doctor Rosario. Not only was I texted the video by friends and former colleagues, I was tagged to the video, and I noticed at least five people in my IG feed reposted the video clip as well.
As stated in previous blogs and podcasts, both Elin and I have our doctorate degrees, and watching the video brought out mixed emotions: anger, disbelief, irritation, and pessimism. On multiple occasions, Elin and I have been questioned or commented about our doctoral status, mainly from our white counterparts and white male supervisors:
- What kind of doctorate do you have? So you are not a real doctor doctor?
- Why did you get a doctorate again? Seems like a waste of time.
- So you prefer to be called doctor? May/can I ask why?
- And even after explaining that we want to be called Doctor Macalino and Dr. Cervantes, some still call us by our first names or Ms. Macalino and Ms. Cervantes.
However, the doctorate title or name is just one example of many microaggressions Elin and I have experienced at work. Sometimes the microaggression comments were snarky, rude, and undermining. And sometimes the microaggression comments were meant to be compliments, but at the end of the day, the compliments were racist, hurtful, and devaluing.
Professor Kevin Nadal defines microaggression as “[…] the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups. The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microagressions might not even be aware of them” (2020, Limbong).
Choosing Your Battles
I notice that when I witness microaggressions between an adult-to-student or student-to-student, I do not hesitate to address the situation. If confidentiality was not an issue, I have stories for days about verbal warnings, formal write-ups, HR meetings, adult/student mediations, restorative circles, suspensions, etc. (y’all admin know what it is).
But when it comes to me personally experiencing microaggressions at work, I definitely hesitate. Here is my usual stream of consciousness:
- Did he/she really just say that? Here we go…
- Should I say something? If so, is it worth my time?
- If I say something, would I look or sound like the angry lady or angry POC?
- Have I talked to this person before? If so, which (HR) step are we on?
- This ____ is one of my supervisors, right? So who the hell do I speak to? And will this person do anything?
- But, foreal, is this worth my time? Cuz I got other shit to worry about.
With that said, we highly recommend that you read Andrew Limbong’s article listed in the resources below. Towards the end of the article, he has recommendations of when and how you could address microaggressive comments and interactions within various settings and relationships.
As for Elin and I moving forward…
Everything is all interconnected – microaggression, implicit bias, racism, anti-Asian violent attacks, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous – all stem from the same roots. Thus, we will…
- Continue to educate ourselves – by reading, researching, and unpacking with each other and other fellow educators.
- Share our knowledge with fellow educators who want to revolutionize the current K-12 public school system.
- Support fellow educators who want to revolutionize the current k-12 public school system by being thought partners, coaches, co-conspirators and -planners.
Take a listen to our podcast (Season 1 Episode 8) and see how we each address microaggression and work towards microaggression prevention at our individual school sites. Do you have any questions, thoughts, reactions to this post? Hit us up on Instagram @empoweredconversationspod. We would love to hear from you and have a collaborative conversation. -Elin and Christina
Podcast related to post:
- Empowered Conversations with Elin & Christina, Season 1 Episode 8: A Conversation about Microaggressions. Are they really that micro?
Resources related to post:
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain (2017) by Zaretta L. Hammond
- Microaggressions Are a Big Deal: How to Talk Them Out And When to Walk Away (2020) by Andrew Limbong
- We Want To Do More Than Survive (2019) by Bettina L. Love
- Courageous Conversations About Race (2019) George E. Singleton