Monday, October 12, 2015

Microagression - Response to the Backlash

I've been thinking about the idea of fairness lately and want to write some on that topic.  Here's a related issue that I'll note for now.  

Little, isolated irritations can be brushed off by most of us, but when one becomes the victim of an onslaught of irritations, it can lead to more serious emotional problems.

That's the basic idea behind microagression.

The term has been specifically used to talk about how getting a daily flow of comments about one's race, religion, weight, or sexual orientation,  can take a heavy toll on people. 

Board members of Healing Racism in Anchorage talk about how the meetings are a place of refuge, a place where people understood their issues, where they didn't have to explain themselves.  That idea of needing a refuge, lends validity for me, of the idea of microagression. 

But there has recently been some pushback on that notion of microagression.  And here's a thoughtful response in the LA Times to that pushbook.

"Microaggressions hurt
By Regina Rini
   IF YOU live near a college campus or read anxious think pieces, you’ve probably heard about “microaggression.” A microaggression is a relatively minor insult to a member of a marginalized group, perceived as damaging to that person’s standing as a social equal. Examples listed on a blog called Oberlin Microaggressions include shopkeepers acting suspicious toward people of color, or someone saying to a Jewish student, “Since Hitler is dead, you don’t have to worry about being killed by him anymore.” A microaggression is not necessarily a deliberate insult, and any one instance might be an honest mistake. But over time a pattern of microaggression can cause macro harm by continuously reminding members of marginalized groups of their precarious position.    A recent paper by sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning claims that talk of microaggression signals the appearance of a new moral culture, a “culture of victimhood.” In the paper, Campbell and Manning present a history of Western morality.    First there was a “culture of honor,” which prized physical bravery. Insults demanded an aggressive reply. Picture two medieval knights glowering at each other, swords drawn.    Then the culture of honor was displaced by a “culture of dignity,” in which individuals let minor insults slide and reported more serious offenses to impartial authorities. Picture a 1950s businessman telling the constable about a neighbor peeking in windows.    Finally, there is an emerging “culture of victimhood,” in which individuals publicly call attention to insults in the hope of rallying support from others and inducing the authorities to act. Picture a Latina student tweeting about her professor’s racist comments.    There is a serious problem with Campbell and Manning’s moral history, and exposing it helps us see that the culture of victimhood label is misleading. .  .  ."
I've given the first few paragraphs,   You can read the whole article here.  

And if you think about how quickly white males of the Tea Party persuasion or some fundamentalist Christians feel attacked when other folks simply ask for fair treatment, you can see that the issue of sensitivity isn't limited to the marginalized of society. 

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