After disclosing her ethnicity, a Chinese student’s college roommate told her all Asians are the same.
Nia Nguyen, a junior advertising major from Duluth and current president of AASA, said her college roommate asked her where she’s from as soon as they met one another. After the roommate clarified she wanted to know Nguyen’s ethnicity and not her hometown, her roommate said, “Oh, they’re all the same anyway.”
The Hispanic Student Association and Asian-American Student Association students gathered in the Reed Programming Room on Tuesday to discuss microaggressions and stereotypes they experience as minority students and how to respond when it happens.
A microaggression is a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Board members from both AASA and HSA presented to the groups, giving examples of microaggressions as offensive questions and statements such as “Do you speak Mexican?” and “Of course you got an A; you’re Asian.”
Viviana Ojeda, a freshman Latin American and Caribbean studies major from Dacula, was told the only reason she was accepted into UGA is because she’s Hispanic.
Diana Chico, a senior marketing and advertising major from Newnan, said many people do not intend to offend by using microaggressions. Oftentimes, she said, it stems from a source of misinformation rather than hatred.
After experiencing microaggressions and hearing stereotypes on a daily basis, some students said they avoid bringing up their personal feelings to their friends in order to avoid conflict.
In order to spread awareness and education of microaggressive behavior, Polo Vargas, a senior political science major from Fayetteville, said when friends utter offensive comments, students should explain how the comment in question may appear to others and explain why it’s offensive.
Most students in the discussion agreed they experience microaggressive behavior from friends outside of their ethnicity, but a few students said they experience isolation from within their own ethnicity.
Chico, current president of HSA, said fellow Hispanics question her ethnicity because of her light skin tone. She said Hispanics sometimes ask her to speak Spanish in order to prove her “Latinidad.”
And Jennifer Lopez, a sophomore fashion merchandising major from Dublin, said she feels like she can’t win. While she experiences negative behavior from those outside of her ethnicity in America, Lopez said when she visits Mexico, fellow Hispanics will treat her as if she’s an outsider and not actually Hispanic herself.