While many seem to think of racism is an issue of the distant past, there are still incidents of discrimination against people of color happening all the time. Considering the subtlety of these racially motivated actions, they’ve been ignored and have therefore become normalized in American society.
Sarasota Florida teen Noah Crowley, for example, has been facing deserved backlash for the “promposal” he made asking his girlfriend to the dance. His sign read, “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking u 4 prom,” according to CNN.
Perhaps it is too optimistic to assume that everyone would see this sign as racist. After all, someone did put the effort into making it. And yet, that is exactly where the problem rests.
“I think it was something that he thought was [going to] be funny, but it’s not,” a black classmate of Crowley’s Erin Williams said, according to CNN. “So this is a good thing to talk about, because you have to recognize something to change it.”
By starting a dialogue about this incident, individuals can find a platform to criticize all types of microaggressions.
Crowley’s school, the local NAACP chapter and other civil rights organizations were some of the first to publicly come forward, condemning his actions and demanding more from students.
“A strong statement needs to be made to their student body that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on any of our campuses throughout the school district, and, if so, there are going to be severe consequences,” Sarasota NAACP chapter president Trevor Harvey said, as reported by CNN.
Crowley’s promposal was a microaggression, which would normally go practically unnoticed, considering the nationwide normalization of such behavior. While the school certainly took a step in the right direction by denouncing his actions, to see real change, these same responses should extend to a national level.
For every microaggression, there must be consequences. These consequences would not only help prevent similar events in the future, but also reverse the damage that’s already been done by normalizing them in the first place.