Ivy league student: joking about pronunciation of 'Cool Whip' can lead to 'binge drinking'
A student at Princeton University claims that teasing someone for how they pronounce “Cool Whip” is a microaggression and could lead to binge drinking.
In an op-ed featured in The Princetonian, titled “ The history of ‘wh’: a microaggression,” freshman Newby Parton claims that people from Tennessee often times pronounce the “wh” sound as “hw” and are unfairly made fun of for it.
"I’ve been pulled into this conversation several times now, and each time I grow a bit more self-conscious. Very few people like to have their speech mocked."
“[M]y peers make a spectacle of it. ‘Say Cool Whip,’ they’ll tell me,” writes Parton.
“I’ll say ‘Cool Whip.’ They’ll repeat it back to me with exaggerated emphasis on the /h/. I’ve been pulled into this conversation several times now, and each time I grow a bit more self-conscious. Very few people like to have their speech mocked.”
Parton writes that he avoids confrontation when possible, but could not take the abuse any longer. He eventually sent a text to his close friend who has been guilty of putting him through the “‘Cool Whip’ routine,” alerting her to his feelings.
“‘Better put that on TM,’ she [responded], referring to the Tiger Microaggressions page notorious for posting inoffensive ‘aggressions,’” wrote Parton. “There came no apology or retraction. She really did not understand that she had caused any offense, even after I had plainly told her so.”
Parton claims he is not trying to point fingers at those who unwittingly made fun of his speech, but is instead working to inform them of the “anxiety and binge drinking” that consumes those facing such aggressions. Parton in turn hopes he has never offended anyone, in anyway.
“I mean it when I say I am afraid. I am afraid that I have spent eighteen years not understanding when I have said something offensive. I am afraid that I have unwittingly hurt the feelings of people so accustomed to microaggression that they did not bother to speak up,” writes Parton.
“I am afraid that I would not have taken those people seriously if they had made a stand. And I am afraid I will do it all again. I am afraid because microaggressions aren’t harmless — there’s research to show that they cause anxiety and binge drinking among the minority students who are targeted.”
Parton says that becoming aware of his shortcomings is “a debt I owe to others” and asks his readers to reach out to him if he has ever hurt their feelings.
“Understanding how others feel is hard for those of us who do not suffer discrimination often, but with a little conscious effort, we can start correcting our mistakes.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO