Imagine that it’s 8:30 a.m., and you’re already having the best day ever. The sun is shining, the humidity is near-nonexistent, and you’ve even found a forgotten $20 bill in your pants pocket. The stars are literally aligning in your favor, and then — BLAM! — someone runs past you and accidentally knocks you to the ground. You dust yourself off, and continue through your day as if it never happened. Only, it did happen, and even though you’ll probably forget about it, that one moment of inexplicable insensitivity has spoiled what was otherwise shaping up to be a pretty much perfect day.
Now imagine that happening over and over and over again.
That’s what a microaggression — a brief and commonplace statement or action motivated by conscious or subconscious bias — feels like.
And over time, they get harder to brush off. MTV’s Look Different campaign found that over time: “[microaggressions] have been found to affect the mental and physical health of recipients, create a hostile work or campus environment, lower work productivity and problem solving abilities, and be partially responsible for creating systemic inequities.”
Not to get all “Schoolhouse Rock,” but knowledge really is power, and educating yourself is an effective way to combat the underlying ignorance that often leads to such intentionally prejudiced actions and statements. Watch these seven “Broken Glass” spots below — each one acting out a different scenario involving an everyday racial or religious microaggression — and try to recognize how you can break that cycle of bias.
1. “I can’t tell Asians apart.”
2. “You’re different for a black guy.”
3. “How’d you get into that school?”
4. “You’re pretty for a dark girl.”
5. “What up, Bin Laden?”
6. “You don’t look Jewish.”
7. “Your English is so good.”
Have questions about microaggressions and other forms of bias? Look Different’s new Good Look Panel, featuring celebs, experts, and young people like Bleachers’’ Jack Antonoff, Ari Fitz from “The Real World,” Kailyn Lowry from MTV’s “Teen Mom 2,” and more, is here to help. They’ll be talking about bias that’s happening in pop culture and in the news, and answering your questions on bias. Be sure to follow Look Different on Twitter and Tumblr for the latest from the panelists.
Do you think that respectful discussions about bias could be even more effective if held in a different sort of digital place? Enter your idea for a safe online space into the Look Different Challenge. The winning individual or team will be recognized with a $10,000 prize, as well as given the chance to work with MTV to see their idea brought to life.
And as always, head over to LookDifferent.org for more info.