The University of North Carolina has created a list of “microaggression” phrases that employees at the college should attempt to avoid.
Prohibited “microaggressions” include mentioning Christian holidays such as Christmas, telling someone that you “love their shoes”, and using the words “husband and wife” instead of “partner and spouse”.
The list was revealed in a blog post made to the university’s employee forum by Faculty Programs Specialist Katie Turner, who boasts both a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies and a Certificate in Gender and International Development from the University of Florida.
In the list, divided into sections that include “Race”, “Gender Identity”, “Religious”, and “Ability”, several microaggressions are listed along with the reason as to why they are offensive.
Turner claims that the offensive microaggressive statement “I love your shoes!”, translates to “I notice how you look and dress more than I value your intellectual contributions. How you look is really important”, and that celebrating Christmas “Further centers the Christian faith and minimizes non-Christian spiritual rituals and observances.”
Asking others to “Please stand and be recognized” is also forbidden as it “Assumes that everyone is able in this way and ignores the diversity of ability in the space”, whilst only acknowledging the two biological genders, Male and Female, is also heavily frowned upon.
Even sport is not safe, as asking co-workers if they’re up for a game of golf “Assumes employees have the financial resources/exposure to a fairly expensive and inaccessible sport”.
Asking a colleague where they are from, interrupting a female, having a gendered dress code, and announcing that you “don’t know any LGBT people” are also strictly prohibited.
“Do these examples sound familiar? Have you delivered or received similar microaggressions?” concludes Turner before providing extra resources for her colleagues in order to help them become less bigoted. “As we come to understand the impact of our words not only in the present, but as a result of years of marginalization, we must identify ways to be better allies and bystanders in the workplace and beyond”.
For those at the college who are (rightly) unaware of the term “microaggression”, Turner describes it 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”.
The post was also contributed to by Sharbari Dey, assistant director for education and special initiatives in the office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and Krista Prince, coordinator for leadership development in Housing and Residential Education. None of their colleagues have commented on the post.