I’ve always been an over thinker and during this lockdown period I’ve had even more time to think and a lot of nostalgia has hit me. It’s been great to be honest, as I love thinking and have an active imagination. One thing I did recall which stood out, was an incident that happened whilst I was in secondary school (either year 10 or year 11 to be specific).
Let me start at the beginning, once upon a time there was a girl called Oyinlola Idris, who was known as Lola at school. In 2010 or 2011, she was in her I.C.T. class with her friend Arron. Arron and Lola were chatting away, joking and laughing as they always did when they were together. There was a supply teacher covering the class that day – I can’t remember the teacher’s name, let’s call him Mr.L, the L stands for loser.
Anyway Mr.L approached Arron and I to tell us to stop laughing, but it was the first thing he said when he approached us that stuck out to Arron and I. Rather than ask me what my name was, he started off the conversation by saying ‘I presume your name is Lola‘. Now, let me put things into context, the school that I went to in an area of Bedfordshire called Sandy, had very few black people. When I say few, I mean very few, I was actually the only black girl in my year group. So clever Mr.L must have scanned the register beforehand and guessed that my name wasn’t for instance Sophie, Lauren or Kelly. When he saw the name Lola he just knew it was me. Now, there’s nothing wrong with thinking you know my name in your mind, but it’s rude and insulting to not even have the courtesy to ask someone what their name is and say to them ‘I presume your name is’.
Anyway 15/16 year old me was pretty outspoken and I recall responding to Mr.L by saying ‘no my name isn’t Lola, why did you ask that?’ Mr.L turned a shade of red, stammered and feebly mumbled something incoherent along the lines of ‘I thought…. that was your name…. so what is your name?’ I had a great deal of fun seeing him embarrassed, especially as other students could hear us. I paused for dramatic effect, laughed and then responded that ‘yes actually my name is Lola, Oyinlola for full, but you can call me Lola’. It’s safe to say that Mr.L wasn’t pleased but Arron and I loved laughing at his idiocy and making him the butt of the joke.
Mr.L did actually apologise to me after the first lesson about the ‘mix up’ and he told me he didn’t mean to ‘upset me’. I was quite a strong-willed young girl so although I received the apology it didn’t do anything for me, in my opinion he’d showed his true character and his apology most likely came from a place of wanting to prevent me from escalating the situation by making a complaint to another teacher.
Anyway, from that incident Mr.L was never a fan of me. He actually covered a few of our lessons and whenever Arron and I were together we’d continue the joke. Arron would say to me ‘I presume your name is Lola’ and I would answer ‘Yes it is and I presume your name is Arron’. We’d say this loudly enough to ensure Mr.L heard, it was very satisfying to see him turn red each time.
I’m actually chuckling whilst writing this, but in spite of the humourous side of this, now that I’m ten years older and I’m reflecting on this incident, I’m thankful that I didn’t let the teacher’s ignorance and micro-aggression upset me or affect me. In fact, I essentially made him the butt of a joke in front of the class and I have no regrets at all.
The purpose of this post is to encourage anyone who may be experiencing micro-agrressions in a school or work setting. Don’t be fearful of standing up for yourself against the micro aggressions, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re never too young to stand up for yourself against a person in a ‘senior’ position. Right is right and wrong is wrong, so don’t feel you have to put up with a micro-aggression whether it’s coming from a teacher, boss or ‘friend’.