When Aretha Bernard, a 17-year-old high school student, walked into class on the day she was about to do her final presentation of her high school career, little did she know that she was about to go viral. She did her presentation called “Microaggression or Overthinking?” How she started it rocked the class back on their heels and the presentation didn’t let up at all.

She flashed the words on the screen, “You’re All Racist.” Is it true? Does it offend you? Well, you’d have to learn what microaggression is all about to really know. They are the deeply embedded thoughts in a person’s psyche that they may not be aware of and they tear other people down. It’s a challenging issue and Aretha had this to say: “I wanted to bring awareness to the issue at hand in an informative way.”

It Can Be Very Subtle When It Slips Through

The actual definition of microaggression is “subtle racism [or] casual degradation of any minority group that neither the victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand.” So, a person might come off with a statement and not even realize how racist it is. Deeply embedded in it are the roots of racism and until it’s pointed out, that person may never know. In fact, the victim may never know why they feel the way they do about themselves.

In her essay, Aretha writes, “People of color, when encountered with microaggression, experience an internal dilemma. They begin questioning themselves asking, ‘Did I interpret that right? Should I say something? Am I overreacting? What did [they] mean by that?’ Often times, the victim may not address the issue at hand which is detrimental to their health and they may not even know it.”

You Never Know How Subtle It Can Be

If it doesn’t sound right, question it. If it’s wrong, correct it. Microaggression is subtle and it needs pointed out when it is caught. The only way to make this world a healthier place to live is to correct people when their microaggression comes to the surface and to identify those things before they are internalized.

Aretha’s essay is going viral. Her work went beyond the classroom and into the world of the internet where so many more people will be able to benefit from it. What a way to end her high school career on a very strong note!

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