Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 16

Res Life

The Big Power of Small Words
By Virginia Koch

How to handle mircroagressions

Photo credit: Jill Brazel

and Tiffany Gonzales

Northwestern students at community assistant training.

Consider this scenario. Maria Martinez
is presenting at a weekly staff meeting,
updating the attendees on occupancy
projections for the upcoming year.
When she is finished, she shuts down
her PowerPoint slideshow and settles
into her seat. As the group moves
on to the next agenda item, Maria’s
colleague Lisa leans over and whispers,
“You speak so well. Your English is
impeccable.”
“Thank you,” Maria says with a
smile while simultaneously asking
herself, “Why wouldn’t it be? I grew up
in Kansas.”
Later that week Maria’s phone
rings. It is Phil from the admissions
office, asking if she could speak the
16

Talking STick

following weekend with a group of
potential students recruited by a
mailing directed at Hispanic high
schoolers. “I think it would be great if
they could see someone like you when
they arrive on campus,” says Phil.
“Someone like me?” Maria wonders
as she hangs up the phone.
Taken word for word, there is
nothing inherently wrong or offensive
with Phil’s or Lisa’s comments. At
the same time, though, it is easy to
imagine how each of these comments
may leave Maria with a nagging
feeling. She may be confident that no
harm was intended, but that doesn’t
diminish the negative impact of the
words.

Such is the nature of
microaggression. In his 2010 book
Microaggressions in Everyday Life:
Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation,
psychologist and multicultural
scholar Derald Wing Sue defines this
as “brief and commonplace daily
verbal, behavioral, and environmental
indignities, whether intentional or
unintentional, that communicate
hostile, derogatory, or negative
racial, gender, sexual-orientation,
and religious slights and insults to
the target person or group.” What
is important to note here is that the
intent does not negate the impact of
a comment. Whether the words are
intended to be a compliment or a



Talking Stick - September/October 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Talking Stick - September/October 2013

Talking Stick - September/October 2013
Contents
New Member Highlight
Vision
Just In
Your ACUHO-I
Transitions
Res Life
Business Operations
Facilities
Calendar
Becoming an Assessment Storyteller
The Quintessential Professional
Conversations
First Takes
Reporting Out
New Members
Snapshot
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Talking Stick - September/October 2013
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Cover2
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 1
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 2
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Contents
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - New Member Highlight
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 5
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Vision
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 7
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Just In
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 9
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 10
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 11
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 12
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Your ACUHO-I
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Transitions
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 15
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Res Life
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 17
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 18
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 19
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Business Operations
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 21
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 22
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 23
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Facilities
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 25
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 26
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Calendar
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Becoming an Assessment Storyteller
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 29
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 30
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 31
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 32
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 33
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 34
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 35
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - The Quintessential Professional
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 37
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 38
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 39
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 40
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 41
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 42
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 43
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Conversations
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 45
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 46
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - First Takes
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Reporting Out
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 49
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 50
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 51
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 52
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 53
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - New Members
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - 55
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Snapshot
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Cover3
Talking Stick - September/October 2013 - Cover4
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