A Raw Moment and Reflection
Imagine feeling targeted to fail because you’re unapologetically proud of being Pasifika. That confidence is personified with the way you move into spaces that are overwhelmingly Eurocentric. But people within a hierarchical system sense an opportunity to exclude using their white privilege and superiority just to show you’re inferior and wrong. It discourages you from being authentic, from making our minority voices heard. They want us to just be grateful with the absolute bare minimum of lower incomes, lower education. To stay stagnant and not challenge and speak up.
Mental health can be impacted in these spaces. The continuing structural institutional bullying silences people. We code-switch to survive and forget integrity, and it’s due to the dominant culture. When some—not all—use their microaggressions to wield their sword to make you feel uncomfortable, it’s enough to make you question if you deserve to be doing higher education and facilitating spaces. It’s a dangerous place to be, when you let the digs hit you personally—and it’s inevitable it will.
It gets to the point you feel like some people don’t want to see you succeed and exceed limitations that they either subliminally or blatantly have for you. They’re trying to make you feel fearful, but there’s hope in everything no matter the darkness you feel from the intimidation, unfair treatment, unconscious bias and attitude as well as the passive aggressive behaviour that makes you feel gaslighted and confused as a whole.
There “tends to be a power dynamic when gaslighting happens”, Dr. Robin Stern explains. The manipulator holds enough power that “the target of the gaslighting is terrified to change up [the relationship] or step out of the gaslighting dynamic because of the threat of losing that relationship.”
One slight slip up, then the unconscious stereotyping occurs. The overreaction from someone who’s a toxic essentialist starts to permeate. Then you, in this case, have a trauma response and not speak up as you don’t want to lose anything or damage your character and name and so forth due to the power they have. It makes you blame others to protect yourself, it makes you put your job over integrity, which gets you mind-fucked later.
The toxic positivity from the manipulator to you after the damage that was caused is a mastery of manipulation that makes you confused. But, sitting with the weirdness you learn why. Why did I do this? Why did I get picked on? And you realise you’re human. No one will get their responses right in the moment—all you have to do is forgive yourself and move on and let it flow through your mind and body (and low-key tears lol) then start the day genuine in your emotions and keep being resilient in these spaces, choosing your battles and learning to protect yourself. And like the Bible verse said, ‘Guard your heart’ (Proverbs 4:23). So then when unfairness knocks on the door, you battle it head on, and the repercussions or resistance doesn’t weigh you down too much, and you keep fighting the good fight to proudly diversify, to proudly amplify voices that get suppressed or overlooked and to fight another day ‘til God says you need to move into your next venture. I may stumble and cry but I will never remain stagnant and weak.
I come from a strong line of ancestors and God the creator who gives me strength to move on. I’ll move through the pain and grow. Watch me x