This Is the Perfect Illustration of Why Microaggressions Hurt

This Is the Perfect Illustration of Why Microaggressions Hurt2016-11-29T17:39:10-05:00

Project Description

Why Microaggressions Hurt
They’re little things – subtle statements, interruptions, and assumptions – that all add up to make you feel small. You can heal from a thousand tiny cuts, but it’s too much to ask that everyone who is hurt spend all their time self-healing. It’s time we learned enough to stop hurting people in the first place.

'Don’t be so sensitive.' 'Grow thicker skin.' 'Just get over it!'

Microaggressions are small, subtle forms of discrimination – so conversations about them often get dominated by people who say they’re 'no big deal.' Which may make you wonder if you or other people are just being too sensitive when microaggressions hurt.

This comic puts that theory to rest by showing exactly how microaggressions take such a toll you on – and why it’s no small thing when you get through a day like this one.

With Love…
The Editors at Everyday Feminism and EmpathyEducates

By Alli Kirkham | Originally Published at Everyday Feminism. October 5, 2015

Why Microaggressions Hurt

Panel 1

(Llelena, the main character in this comic, is a heavy, dark-skinned woman. She is standing in front of a mirror in her apartment that is placed above a table with a vase on it, smiling and pointing at her reflection.)

Llelena: Lookin’ good, babe! Let’s kick ass today!

Panel 2

(Llelena attempts to hail a cab but several drive past her without stopping.)

Llelena (thinking): That’s the third cab to pass me. I guess I’m taking the train. Hopefully I’ll still have time for breakfast.

Panel 3

(Llelena is sitting in the subway looking at her phone. A white woman seated next to her looks at Llelena with a suspicious expression while leaning away from her.)

Panel 4

{Llelena is in a coffee shop while a barista holds up a drink, trying to read her name off of it. She is subtly smaller than in the previous panel)

Barista: L-luh-leena?

Llelena: It’s Yuh-lane-ah! Thanks!

Barista: That’s a pretty name! Where are you from?

Llelena: Brooklyn.

Barista: Oh!

Panel 5

(Llelena and another Jane are walking in a hallway, chatting with one another. Llelena is half a head shorter than Jane.)

Jane: Hey Laney, looking good!

Llelena: Thanks!

Jane: Have you lost weight?

Llelena: Um, no.

Jane: Oh, still, you look great!

Panel 6

(Llelena is speaking to her employer, Mr. Brooks, while standing next to a desk. Llelena is about as high as his shoulder. Mr. Brooks has the good grace to look embarrassed.)

Brooks: Laney, I’m having Cohen make the sales call to Johnson.

Llelena: But Johnson is my project!

Brooks: Yeah, but you know how old-fashioned he is. Cohen’s got a better chance of closing.

Panel 7

(Llelena is holding up a phone that looks cartoonishly large, the handset is longer than her head and the desk she’s standing at comes up to her chest.)

Llelena: Braun Fabrication.

Customer on phone: Could you be a sweetie and put me on with one of the designers.

Llelena: Yes sir, I’m one of the designers. How can I help you?

Customer on phone: Oh, well, um…

Panel 8

(Llelena and Jane are in line at a cafeteria counter, Llelena has a hamburger on her tray, Jane has a salad, and Llelena is now a head and a half shorter than Jane.)

Jane: Huh, are you sure a burger is a good choice?

Llelena: Are you sure asking me that is a good choice?

Panel 9

(Llelena speaking to Cohen at a table in a meeting, Llelena is about half of Cohen’s height.)

Llelena: So if we retool the—

Cohen: Isn’t that a bit hasty?

Llelena: No I don’t think—

Cohen: I mean, I just want to consider the cost.

Llelena: Would you consider not interrupting me anymore?

Panel 10

(Llelena still in the meeting, sitting between Cohen and Brooks, her head is barely peeking up above the edge of the table and her hands are up on the table next to her face as she looks frustratedly at Brooks.)

Cohen: So I looked at the costs, and I think retooling is a wise move, financially.

Brooks: Good work, Jim.

Panel 11

(Brooks and Cohen exit the meeting, Llelena is next to them and now slightly below hip-height on them.)

Cohen: We’re meeting Johnson for drinks at 9.

Llelena: What about me?

Cohen: We only got a reservation for three. We didn’t think you’d be into the whole scotch and cigars thing. Sorry.

Panel 12

(Llelena is at a coffee shop, returning a drink to the barista. The barista has to lean over the counter to see her and the cup she’s holding up over her head is enormous next to her.)

Llelena: Excuse me, I didn’t order sugar-free.

Barista: Oh, sorry, I just assumed…

Panel 13

(Llelena is on the subway, she is about the size of a toddler and an older woman sitting next to her is scooting away from her while looking at her suspiciously.

Panel 14

(Llelena is in a bodega speaking to the cashier – she is next to a basket of food that is almost as tall as her and holding a bill that is huge in her hand. The cashier is behind the counter and leaning down to look at her.)

Cashier: Just so you know, we don’t take food stamps.

Llelena: That’s fine, I’m paying cash.

Panel 15

(Llelena is standing on her stoop, holding a key that’s as long as her arm. Behind her there is a police car pulled up on the street with an officer hanging out the window.)

Police Officer: Are you meeting someone?

Llelena: No, officer, I live here.

Police Officer: Oh, okay. We’ve just had reports of a suspicious person…

Panel 16

(Llelena slowly climbing up a staircase, she is now so small that each step comes up to her chest.)

Panel 17

(Llelena sits on a couch with a book in her lap and a grey cat on the arm of the couch next to her, she is about the size of the cat.)

Panel 18

(Llelena stands in a kitchen preparing a meal and smiling, there is a radio on the counter playing music; Llelena’s head now comes up over the edge of the counter by a couple of inches.)

Panel 19

(Llelena sits at a table in a chair that is only a little too big for her holding her phone up to her head and speaking to her grandmother.)

Llelena: Sí, Abuela. Te amo.

Abuela: Te amo, Llelena.

Panel 20

(Llelena soaks in a bubble bath and looks relaxed while her stereo plays music and the cat chases bubbles. Llelena is only a few inches shorter than normal.)

Panel 21

(Llelena laughs at the TV while she’s sitting on the couch with the cat curled up behind her; she is nearly back to full size)

Panel 22

(Llelena is smiling and drinking a cup of tea while scratching the cat behind its ears; she is back to her normal size.)

Panel 23

(Llelena passes the mirror with the vase and flower on her way to bed, she points at her reflection, looking somewhat tired but satisfied)

Llelena: Well done, babe. We kicked ass today.

Panel 24

(An image of the flower on the table with the lights turned off, all the colors are dim except the petals of the sunflower, which are a bright yellow.)

Text: What are microaggressions? They’re little things – subtle statements, interruptions, and assumptions – that all add up to make you feel small. You can heal from a thousand tiny cuts, but it’s too much to ask that everyone who is hurt spend all their time self-healing. It’s time we learned enough to stop hurting people in the first place.

Alli Kirkham is a Contributing Comic Artist for Everyday Feminism and blogger, cartoonist, and intersectional feminist. Alli earned a BA in English Literature from Cal Poly Pomona in 2011 and uses it as an excuse to blog about books while swearing a lot. When she isn’t cartooning for Everyday Feminism or cursing at popular fiction, she posts cartoons and other silly things on her Tumblr. | Follow her out on Twitter @allivanlahr.

This piece was republished by EmpathyEducates with the kind permission of the Everyday Feminism. We also wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Artist, Alli Kirkham, for her dedication to seeing the world through a clearer lenses.