Re: Micro-aggressions

1

Micro-aggression seems like the wrong term for most of those things. Aggression implies some sort of hostile intent, but the majority of the things on the list are more along the lines of clueless, stupid, or alienating. "Othering" is, I think, the PC term of art for most of them.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:08 AM
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Microaggression = always getting a Latina to play Dora the Explorer.
But, then again, getting a white girl to play Dora = deliberately whitewashing one of the few really prominent Latina characters in children's fiction.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:16 AM
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They all seem like they would be super fucking annoying to experience, rarely or frequently.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:16 AM
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There are also two categories that I think are worth picking apart -- things that, even if they aren't a big deal, are unambiguously jerky things to say regardless of who they're directed at, and things that might be fine from one white person to another, but don't work as well across ethnic lines. "What's your background", which, if the conversation provided enough context I easily might say as "What are you?", is something I could see myself saying in a getting-to-know you conversation with a white person. I'd be looking for an answer like "Pennsylvania Dutch on my mother's side -- my Dad's mom is Italian, which is why we always have fish on Christmas Eve," or something else that might get the conversation going.

Doesn't make it not 'othering' in a different context, but it requires a little more thought than the more obvious jerk remarks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:18 AM
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Building on LB's point, I suspect a lot of them are delivered in an assholish way. Whereas the naively-racist kid who is reading the list will think, "But I'd say those things nicely! What's the big deal."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:19 AM
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Mixed bag. I get "where are you from" because I have a weird accent. It's a way of starting a conversation. Others on the list were worse.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:20 AM
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They're also the same sorts of things that city kids will say to country kids, so a list like this bolsters the country kid's belief that he's persecuted by not getting featured on a tumblr run by liberals.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:22 AM
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If you want to be in keeping with the original character, you should always get a total rube to play Dora.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:23 AM
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I get to be the cursor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:24 AM
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They all seem like they would be super fucking annoying to experience, rarely or frequently.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:24 AM
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But overall, I think the point of calling them 'micro' aggressions is that they're the kind of thing that are mostly pretty small and not necessarily meant badly, but that the effect on the hearer builds up over time and is tiring. (Some of the things on the list I wouldn't put in the 'micro' category: "Smells like rice" and "Can you see properly out of your eyes" both seem like serious active aggression. I suppose the latter could just barely possibly come from a naive idiot raised in a racist milieu, but just barely.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:25 AM
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But who can put a number on "frequently"? Is twice in ten minutes "frequent"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:25 AM
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Those are awful. I get why some people would read that list and think, "what's the big deal?" but, personally, I can feel my teeth clench looking at most of those.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:25 AM
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As a lily-white person in a non-US context who has regularly gotten "oh, you must not be from here" in my FUCKING HOME TOWN (ahem), it grates over time. Not so much the intent - it is almost always benign - but because it is mentally exhausting to process, especially as a teen or young adult. If I'm not "from here", then where am I from? Nowhere at all, really. And is anything more alienating than being told you don't belong (not just in this particular place, but as a result everywhere)?

I've been on the other end of this problem, though: I have a clear memory of being a young, well-meaning new camp counsellor, and wanting to find common ground with the kids I was welcoming to camp & registering. "Where are you from?" was one of my go-to questions, the expected answer being one of a handful of local communities. Except when I asked a kid who was obviously of a different race from her mother, and the mother just went CRAZY at me. Oops. I really was expects (town 25min from here), not "Guatemala" or something, but obviously expectations matter.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:29 AM
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I dunno, most of 'em seemed pretty bad to me. I think micro-aggression is a reasonable coinage. I mean, I was riding on the bus last summer, and some old white asshole was annoyed by two middle-aged black men talking, so he started loudly calling them "boy" -- that's gotta be a verbal macro-aggression by anyone's standards. These, obviously, aren't as bad as that, because intent, but there is a point when willful cluelessness shades over into being seriously fucked up.

I wonder a lot about how my little friend is going to process all of this kind of stuff. Her father's father is black, and while you can see some of her father's features in her face, it looks like she's probably going to pass as 100% white for the rest of her life. Obviously, 50 years ago, a lot of people would have felt pretty strongly that this was a very good thing. Now, of course, there are more complexities to it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:29 AM
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I still get pissed off about a Sociology class at the U of C -- there was, I think, one black woman in the class, and some moron white dude said (in some kind of not totally unreasonable context, it wasn't 100% out of the blue) that kinky hair was a sex-linked characteristic, because black men had kinky hair and black women didn't. And while there was a collective eyeroll at him because most people in the class weren't that clueless, somehow the instructor put whatever her name was on the spot to explain hair-straightening to him, and that there wasn't any biological basis for the difference in hairstyles. It was creepy and uncomfortable for me just being in the class, and must have sucked much worse for her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:30 AM
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Weird. I typed up a long something, which was replaced by a previous comment.

What I had written, was that I agree that these seem like they are on a continuum, from info gathering* to clueless to downright mean and nasty.

*In my area growing up, there were lots of people from different places due to immigrant populations that moved to the region to work in mills. So, it was a frequent conversation to be asking "what are you", though being adopted, I myself never knew (till many years later).

Also, I wanted to say that 11 seems very correct, and is part of what's been called minority stress theory. It's very easy to walk around in a constant state of stress about how people are going to react to you (even though one can forget how all encompassing it is and not be aware of how on guard he/she is all the time). Even little comments (meant bad or not) are likely to have an impact.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:32 AM
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I hope you all don't think that I'm actually saying these don't suck to receive. Because there's some strawman-ing going on here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:32 AM
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The target audience for this thing is not someone who appreciates the effect of stress theory on members of a minority.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:35 AM
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Except when I asked a kid who was obviously of a different race from her mother, and the mother just went CRAZY at me. Oops. I really was expects (town 25min from here), not "Guatemala" or something, but obviously expectations matter.

Yeah, I just ran into this a bit -- a school event at Newt's school, I was chatting up another couple of parents I didn't know, and asked which of the kids in the crowd was theirs. Got a bit of a hackles-raised vibe, which I was puzzled by, and then they indicated their daughter, who was likewise obviously a different race. There, I picked up the vibe before I put a foot wrong, but they did seem to be braced for people being annoying along those lines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:35 AM
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19: Eh. I mean, there's something to be said for meeting people where they are, which is what I understand you to be saying -- that someone has to be fairly enlightened before a list like this will resonate with them at all. On the other hand, if you aim all of your rhetoric at the most meatheaded among us, you never make any progress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:38 AM
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You know one thing that really made me uncomfortable? I was waiting in line and the supermarket, and a Somali woman was being rung up, and a Native woman was in line between us. And there was some confusion about the Somali woman's EBT card, and the Native woman turns to me and tries to get me to express some disgust at the fact that Somalis would come here and expect to get the same benefits that US-born poor people did. Obviously, I did not lecture her on why she should be in solidarity with the Somali woman against me, but I would have liked to.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:39 AM
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Is twice in ten minutes "frequent"?

To be young again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:40 AM
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But this being a picture-ful Buzzfeed list, does seem to be aimed at the most meatheaded among us. It not a high-concept essay in the Atlantic.

Anyway I do seem sensitive to reading things through naively-conservative young Texan eyes. Students who are temporarily pursuadable, as undergrads, although they probably revert back the moment they have children. I would never show this to them, which is not to say that I wouldn't tackle the subject of micro-aggressions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:42 AM
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Somewhere in the archives has got to the story of how I cluelessly microaggressioned my way out of a date once -- I was working at Time Inc. before law school, and a cute South Asian guy asked me to lunch. At lunch, I was trying to chat in my inimitably awkward way, and did some "Where are you from", "Any family you go back to visit", and so on. Conversation got cold and died, no further contact after that lunch. Took me a couple of days to figure out where I'd taken a wrong turn there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:45 AM
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I remember my mother always getting asked where she was from, and that she would hardly ever tell. I wasn't sure if she thought people might be hostile if they knew she was from Israel, or if she just thought it was rude of them to ask. I guess it was a bit of both.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:48 AM
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To make my idiocy somewhat less excusable, when I say South Asian, I mean South-Asian-from-Queens (or Jersey, or something), clearly not in any sense a recent immigrant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:49 AM
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It's a tough conversation to have.

I live in a town that's pretty white (also generally liberal, college town, etc . . .), my circle of friends and acquaintances is also pretty white, but I have one close-friend who is non-white. It's remarkable both to hear about the occasional blatant incidents of racial hostility she encounters and to watch her conversations with other (white) people and how differently people try to process learning that her experience of this town that they like, and think of as conscientious, is really different from their experience.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:49 AM
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I always have trouble negotiating the "where are you from" conversations, because I don't know how to respond when someone has asked me where I'm from and they're obviously from outside the US. Often it's in a forced-smalltalk conversation so it's not even that they especially want to know that I am from outside of Chicago, etc, they're just desperate for something generic to say. My natural follow-up is to ask some kind of "where are you from" question - I usually phrase it as "did you grow up in Minneapolis" on the theory that this shows that I am not starting from a position of "so, you must be foreign". But I never feel really good about it, the more so because very often the person obviously didn't want to come here - they either came here because of civil war, are some kind of economic refugee or are not precisely an economic refugee but couldn't find good work or a decent postdoc at home. And while I'm glad to hear whatever folks want to share, I don't want to sound like I'm pushing them to lay all that stuff out for me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:56 AM
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I always have trouble negotiating the "where are you from" conversations, because I don't know how to respond when someone has asked me where I'm from

Sir, Texas, sir!
--Texas! Holy shit, only steers and queers come from Texas and I don't see any horns on you so that kind of narrows it down, don't it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:59 AM
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I was conceived in Texas, and I definitely down have any horns on me.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:08 AM
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32

I mean, small talk is awkward. The one I'm forever dancing around is how to ask "What do you spend your time doing?" without sounding like I'm insulting a SAHM. If you already know the kids exist, it sounds like you're saying "But what else that's real do you do?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:09 AM
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Just ask "do you like trains?" It's surefire. Ask a stranger on the street, ask a friend, ask somebody you just met at a cocktail party, ask somebody you just asked forty seconds ago: doesn't matter. Surefire.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:13 AM
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What about the people whose children were killed by trains, asshole?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:15 AM
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35

Well I guess they'll have a lot to talk about, won't they?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:16 AM
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"Where did you grow up" seems reasonable although it's pretty obvious if it doesn't get you to the information you're really seeking. "Oh, Jersey? Ok, well where did your parents grow up? New York? Ok, how about your grandparents..."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:16 AM
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"Oh you don't, because your small child was killed by one? Tell me more! Wait, wait, let me freshen my drink first. Delicious!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:16 AM
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33 is genius advice.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:18 AM
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Wait, is the advice for geniuses, by geniuses, or ingenious? (At first, I spelled geniuses as genius', which is pretty non-genius).


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:26 AM
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Just ask "do you like trains?"

Are we sure that Sheldon Cooper wasn't based on Sifu Tweety?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:27 AM
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Wait, is the advice for geniuses, by geniuses, or ingenious? (At first, I spelled geniuses as genius', which is pretty non-genius).

Ingenuous, un-genius advice.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:31 AM
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I had a Canadian friend in grad school who got shit like this all the time. His parents were Kenyan Ismailis so he looked Indian but he was born and raised in Canada. He had a Canadian accent which he worked on a lot to get rid of the "aboot's" and the "eh's" but it was still detectable. He liked hockey too and knew jack about cricket. So totally Canadian. In one seminar I remember the professor gesturing to me and the other white American student in the class and refer to the pair of us as the only native English speakers in the room. I immediately shot my Canadian friend a glance and he's looking at me with this stunned WTF!? expression on his face.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:32 AM
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There are an astounding number of Americans who think that your modal Canadian speaks French as a first language.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:34 AM
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At least astounding to me. I assume everybody has watched at least one season of "The Red Green Show."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:35 AM
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32: I wonder if there's some version of "What's your favorite part of the day?" that would work. You could share a brief answer on your own behalf ("There's always this happy hour or two midmorning on Saturdays when the kids are occupied with fun thing X and I get to brew a second cup of coffee...") and see if that gets you more information. Or "Do you feel like an expert at multitasking [or filling small intervals of time], or is it hopeless?" Or "Do you have any words of wisdom on balancing short-term and long-term projects, now that your kids are m and n years old?" Anything like that, that she could flesh out with examples. As I've mentioned, I'm wonderfully skilled at talking to other mothers and could put together an entire Buzzfeed gallery of puzzled and alienated faces from my dialogues.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:38 AM
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I wonder if there's some version of "What's your favorite part of the day?" that would work.

I think this is one of our interview question for high school seniors looking to score scholarship dollars. What's a book you've read, which was not assigned, and what did you like or not like about it? Why would you be a good fit for Heebie U?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:43 AM
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I do get a window on how very irritating this sort of stuff is from Sally, who gets a steady stream of it from her Spanish teacher -- she's the only non-Latin@ in the advanced Spanish class, and there's a whole lot of "Write a paragraph about whatever Latin American country your family is from," "Talk to a family member who grew up monolingual in Spanish for this family history whatever", that then gets backed off to "Oh, everyone but Sally." I have told her that it's good practice both for letting minor annoyances roll off her, and for empathizing with people who have to deal with stuff like this all day rather than from one teacher in one class, and hopefully that's the message she's getting from it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:43 AM
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I mean, it's possible that if you go far enough back, we have a family member who was monolingual in Spanish, but if so, he washed ashore on the west coast of Ireland after the whole Armada thing went badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:46 AM
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I had a uncle who started saying that we had such an ancestor, but he was well into dementia before he said it the first time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:50 AM
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Maybe I'm also being tone-deaf because 47 is not something that would bother me, when I've been in similar situations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:51 AM
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I'm horrible at small talk and even on the most basic questions I always feel as though I'm flailing around. I expect I must have used "Where are you from?" from time to time in a context where it might not have been taken well. Although the question that's on the linked microaggression list is "No, where are you really from?" which (it seems to me) is on another level entirely, as it implicitly asserts: "You're not really from where you just said."


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:53 AM
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I think the modal Brit small talk opener is "What do you do?"

IF (Retired/Unemployed) THEN
"How do you fill your time"/What's your next project?"
ELSF (Homemaker) THEN
IF (Kids) THEN
Talk about the kids
ELSE
Talk about decorating
END IF
ELSE
Get them talking about their job
END IF


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:55 AM
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50: There, part of it may be that it's been the same teacher, doing the same shtick, for three years now. Sally's hit a bit of a "Yes, you've known that I'm not ethnically Latina since I was first in your class three years ago, can this stop being a thing?" point. It's not miserable, but she's going to sprain an eye muscle rolling them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:57 AM
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I think the American obsession with where people are from must stem from their delight in being hyphenated. It mostly doesn't arise in my experience. If somebody has a plausibly local accent, then their probably from round here; if not, they'll talk about it in their own good time if they ever need an anecdote about living in exotic climes, and if they don't, they won't.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:59 AM
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Mentioning again my broad circle of multiracial friends and acquaintances: A friend who is half Vietnamese and half Norwegian grew up in a small city, where he was constantly read as white, even by people who knew his Vietnamese mother quite well. He frequently had to step on burgeoning racist banter at lunch in HS, for instance, reminding his friends that he was not in a position to chuckle along with them. That must've gotten old fast. He married a German-Mexican too, so that will probably lead to some interesting "where are you from?" convos for their expected kid.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:02 AM
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54 strikes me as unlikely. You don't think that people with accents or non-white skin color get asked where they're from?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:04 AM
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46: "Have you considered returning to school to get a degree at Heebie U? Why or why not?"


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:07 AM
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54: Well, or that some kind of hyphenation is a really broadly shared status. It's not that the UK doesn't have lots of immigrants and people whose families immigrated in the last few generations, but there's a plurality of people who don't have anything more complicated to say about their family background than UK someplace. In the US, the vast majority of the population has some kind of background story -- there's not a neutral plurality.

I'm saying that, and then I realize that I live in NY and am actually not sure about the rest of the country. Do white people in, say, Texas, think of themselves as having ethnic backgrounds other than American?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:14 AM
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You don't think that people with accents or non-white skin color get asked where they're from?

I'm sure they do, but not to the extent of it being a big thing. Racists, aggressive or otherwise, assume that black people are from Jamaica, brown people are from Pakistan and lighter brown people are Chinese, unless they're working in a Thai restaurant. Less racist people make less crude assumptions. But all within a context where the default is not to "come from" anywhere, so it isn't an obvious thing to talk about.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:16 AM
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re: 56

I don't think it'd be quite as common as you think in the UK. For a start, basically _everyone_ has an accent. But we are (collectively) pretty good at reading those so it often doesn't need to be asked unless you want to get specific.

'So, are you from Dennistoun or Cranhill?'

I think it's also considered fairly rude to ask someone non-white where they are from, as there's an implicit, 'You aren't British, are you?' which could be construed as hostile or racist.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:19 AM
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Do white people in, say, Texas, think of themselves as having ethnic backgrounds other than American?

Probably about half of them think that being Texan is what makes them non-generic and special, and the other half think that they are generic Americans.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:20 AM
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all within a context where the default is not to "come from" anywhere, so it isn't an obvious thing to talk about.

I call shenanigans: you islanders always go on about how you can identify regional accents down to the Hilltop-town-A vs neighboring Hilltop-town-B level.

You only don't remark about it because *you already know.*


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:20 AM
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I know, for example, that my Glaswegian friend of Pakistani origin gets quite fucked off when people ask here where she's 'from'.

'Shawlands.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:20 AM
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60: darnit, pwned by that Irish-sounding guy.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:21 AM
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I spent a summer in London and my American-ness was a consistent part of any conversation I had with anyone new. (Side note: as part of my job, I made a bunch of calls to council tenants, who loved it when I signed off with "Have a nice day!" Like if I happened to talk to them more than once, they'd often recall that.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:22 AM
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59: Something I have idly wondered, and thought that I should know offhand (that is, there is a risk that asking this will expose truly massive ignorance): there seems to have been an awful lot more immigration to the UK from Pakistan than from India -- that is, the UK default assumption for someone apparently South Asian is Pakistani rather than Indian, where here, my first guess would be the reverse. Is there a simple explanation?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:27 AM
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Do white people in, say, Texas, think of themselves as having ethnic backgrounds other than American?

IME, yes, white people will go on about being half-Polish half-Italian or what have you, even if they are sixth generation Chicago.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:27 AM
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It used to be quite common for people of colour to get told to "Go back where you come from" (Bradford?), by people who didn't care where that might be but assumed it was abroad somewhere. But that's different from using "Where do you come from?" as a clumsy conversational gambit.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:29 AM
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I've had a number of friends/acquaintances say things to me like "You're not like most gay guys," always in an approving way, like "way to go for being a little bit butch in certain contexts." (I am not very butch and any butchness is not consistent over time.) It's irritating. I get that it's not meant to put me down, but it reveals the person to be clearly if only mildly anti-gay. And then they're saying this thing to you as an offering of friendship or approval, and you have no good way of responding. "Yeah, um, I guess it's great that even though I'm gay my gender presentation doesn't make you uncomfortable." Actually, maybe that would work.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:29 AM
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I think 67 varies tremendously by part of the country. I've heard people say that about the Northeast, but I've really never noticed it in Florida/Michigan/Texas.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:30 AM
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I thought they were all kind of bad, though some of them can be less bad in certain contexts. Most people in the US assume I'm foreign, but since N. Europeans are pretty accepted by mainstream American culture, this assumption never makes me feel like I don't belong. If I were Asian or Latina, I might feel differently.

On the issue of microagression, I think that this format doesn't work precisely because it's the sort of thing that doesn't seem all that bad or even not bad at all the first time, but, as mentioned above, builds up over time. I completely get this. I get asked the same questions, over and over again, sometimes dozens of times a day, every single day. None of the questions or comments are offensive or insulting, and the people asking them have nothing but the nicest intentions. Over time though, it becomes unbearable, and reinforces that I will never belong where I live, and that I am a constant spectacle, everywhere I go and everything I do, no matter how mundane. It's completely exhausting. There have been days I haven't left my house, mainly because I don't want to have to explain who I am, where I'm from, what I do, how I do it, why I speak Chinese, where I learned it, how old I am, why I look the way I do, if I'm married, why I don't have kids etc. to every single fucking person I meet. I also am sick of people assuming I'm a tourist, language student, or English teacher. All these are perfectly reasonable assumptions for people to make and would be right 99% of the time, and they are in no way offensive. But being asked "are you a tourist?" for the 11 millionth time as you're carrying toilet paper back home just really grates. I want to shout I LIVE HERE YOU JERKFACE CAN'T YOU TELL? But of course they can't tell, because basically no foreigners live here, and that would be an incredibly rude thing for me to say to a total stranger.

I think this is also a point with a microagression. If you're the ignorant but well-meaning white person, you're asking the question/making the comment for the first time, a strongly negative response is an overreaction. If you're POC hearing it for the millionth time, it takes a huge amount of self control not to explode or say something really rude in response.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:32 AM
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Is there a simple explanation?

There are a lot of complicating factors, but the simple explanation is that when industrial employers went seeking cheap labour during the long boom, they happened to recruit in Pakistan (Including East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh), more than in India. I imagine that this is because the Pakistani government was more facilitating, but I don't know any details.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:34 AM
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69: Mmm, I've gotten admiring comments about how non-feminine I am, and while clearly sincerely well-meant, and while I'm generally happy with my level of femininity, they do grate a bit. Not actually trying to distinguish myself from the contemptibly girlish, I just act like this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:35 AM
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way to go for being a little bit butch in certain contexts

Mouseover?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:36 AM
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72: Oh, good. I was a little worried about asking because I was afraid it would reveal my ignorance of the 1973 Great Purge Of [placename someplace], which any decently aware person should know about, that drove the Pakistani immigration to the UK.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:37 AM
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California puts basically no effort whatsoever into distinguishing the various types of whiteys. I mean sure there are a few people who get into it and go on and on about how they're Irish because two of their great great grandparents came from there and like House of Pain, but it's pretty rare and people basically don't give a shit, if you're white your white. That's different in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:37 AM
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I don't think you're doing people any favors by teaching them to be extraordinarily sensitive to anything that can be interpreted as a slight, which the 'micro-aggressions' framework does. That's true even if such behaviors are annoying in the aggregate; there are other ways to approach them.

But try this for a macro-aggression: a fellow child of Holocaust survivors I am very close to went to school in Germany for a year or so. He went with his German girlfriend to meet her grandmother, who (knowing full well he was Jewish) informed him that '1933-1945 were Germany's best years', and when he took issue said 'it is so pleasant that one no longer encounters people like you, people who talk too much'.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:38 AM
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52: Was it once taboo in the UK to ask what someone's job was? Or was that asking about one's father's job? My dad explained a section of molesworth to me this way.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:38 AM
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75: There was a serious war in 1971.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:42 AM
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He went with his German girlfriend to meet her grandmother, who (knowing full well he was Jewish) informed him that '1933-1945 were Germany's best years', and when he took issue said 'it is so pleasant that one no longer encounters people like you, people who talk too much'.

I suppose it's too much to hope he laughed in her face and said, "I'm fucking your granddaughter, and you can't do anything about it."


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:42 AM
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80: Once you go down that road, I think affirmatively bringing up circumcision in some manner that identifies the uncircumcised as offensively unclean would be hard to resist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:47 AM
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"I'm fucking your granddaughter, and if you don't watch it, I'll start to do it poorly and you can't do anything about it."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:48 AM
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77: I don't think you're doing people any favors by teaching them to be extraordinarily sensitive to anything that can be interpreted as a slight, which the 'micro-aggressions' framework does. That's true even if such behaviors are annoying in the aggregate; there are other ways to approach them.

While I agree that being insensitive to minor slights is often an advantage, I disagree strongly that recognizing the burden that the accumulation of minor slights can pose is teaching the repeatedly slighted to be extraordinarily sensitive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:49 AM
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78. I think that applies or applied mainly to people with lots of money, because it is or was thought rude to seem to be trying to find out whether your interlocutor's money was old or new. People who are just trying to earn their crust aren't bothered.

79. Yes, but the migration patterns were established by then.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:49 AM
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||
I rather liked the poem on Mandela read by the poet on NPR this morning. This line was one that jumped out at me:

An AK-47 grip on necessity

|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:55 AM
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We had a training on micro-aggressions or maybe it was micro-inequities at my old job. I think the terminology is dopey in a way that makes it hard to take seriously, and people certainly did not.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:59 AM
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Re: the "I listen to Carrie Underwood" sign, I recently heard a Moth story by June Cross. She tells a better version of this story in the podcast, but here's the gist:

June Cross recently told a story on The Moth about meeting Muhammad Ali at a Johnny Cash concert, and she said to him "Hey champ, how come you and I are the only black people in here getting ready to listen to Johnny Cash," and he answered "Girl, I'm from Louisville, Kentucky; Where I come from, there's a whole lot of people listen to country music."

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:11 PM
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I've had a number of friends/acquaintances say things to me like "You're not like most gay guys,"

I want "I am, where it counts" to be the appropriate response to this but I'm not sure it works.

I don't think I've ever gotten this one, which means either my friends are super enlightened or I am a giant drag queen, setting off gaydar like car alarms in a thunder storm.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:23 PM
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I don't think I've ever asked "Where are you from?" when not invited by "Back home..." or "Where I come from...," but I attribute that to having attended college during an era when everyone would aggressively force their geo-genealogical information upon you, without your having shown the slightest interest. I recall being caught a few times rolling my eyes when the "My mother's parents are from Italy -- Calabria, actually" verse got started.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:27 PM
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Rereading 89: Good God, I was obnoxious.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:30 PM
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88: I wouldn't say your butchness is consistent across your metaphors or anything, but you're a lovely person in many ways.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:33 PM
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I don't think you're doing people any favors by teaching them to be extraordinarily sensitive to anything that can be interpreted as a slight, which the 'micro-aggressions' framework does.

Thank you! My bingo card wasn't getting anywhere in this thread; now at least I can fill out "aggressively condescending to the aggrieved".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:40 PM
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91: someone who knew me primarily from my opera blog once told me "I assume from your prose style you're a bottom."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:46 PM
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88 - This is a brilliant response!

I've gotten that one too, which makes me REALLY wonder who these "most gay guys are," as I wouldn't put myself in the super butch camp. I am also a bit messy, which is outside of the stereotype.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:53 PM
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I didn't know prose style contained such hints. Now, I'm going be on the look out!


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:54 PM
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Yeah, now I'm kind of worried about what my writing says about my sex life.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:56 PM
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95: Your writing is a wee bit on the transparent side, if I had to hazard a guess.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:01 PM
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The sex life hints are in the timestamps. "Oooh, commenting at 1am on a Friday. Bit of a dry spell?"


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:04 PM
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Rance, was 97 intentionally masturbatory or to me?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:08 PM
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My prose says "I like to cuddle"; my poetry says "Ladies...."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:08 PM
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99: Maybe both!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:10 PM
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It could be two things!
But, no, unintentionally masturbatory!!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:21 PM
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My shame is so strong, that I didn't sign 102.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:21 PM
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Some people respond to microaggressions with both barrels. A friend of mine is of Bangladeshi heritage, but he was born and raised in the Midwest. He used to be in the habit of saying "Wait, are you asking me where am I from, or why am I brown?"

I think the "Where are you from?" question isn't that fraught in DC, because there are so many transplants. But then, maybe that says something about the kind of parties I get invited to, longtime DC residents do exist, something something gentrification.

65
I spent a summer in London and my American-ness was a consistent part of any conversation I had with anyone new.

Same here about my year in France. In my case, though, that's to be expected in an exchange-student situation. It would probably begin to grate if I had been living there for 20 years.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:24 PM
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Oh, I certainly agree with 104.last. I was just disputing that people in the UK weren't inclined towards such small talk.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:25 PM
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I think it's also considered fairly rude to ask someone non-white where they are from, as there's an implicit, 'You aren't British, are you?' which could be construed as hostile or racist.

Well, yes. And people are constantly doing things that are considered fairly rude.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:28 PM
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this makes racism look like something you can shrug off, and get on with your day

Really? I feel like if I was on the receiving end of most of these, I'd be stewing over them for a long time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:28 PM
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76 but it's pretty rare and people basically don't give a shit, if you're white your white. That's different in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

I was completely weirded out when I went to college to meet lots of people who were very serious about their Italian or Irish or whatever ancestry, because I had never encountered it before.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:30 PM
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If you got them only once in a while? I'm saying that's the lens that I imagine Naive Young Texan would read this through.

I do agree that these would grate in practice, but I assume you're not actually making that point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:31 PM
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I guess I can't put myself in the Naive Young Texan viewpoint very well. Surely they know lots o people of other races they can empathize with?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:34 PM
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Also, one of those microaggression pictures is awkwardly funny. One guy is holding a sign saying 'When I gave a speech about racism, the emcee introduced me as "Jaime Garcia." My name is Jaime Rodriguez; not all Latinos have the last name GARCIA.'

I agree that it's annoying when people get your name wrong, but Rodriguez must be the second or third most common Latino family name (not doing the research, sorry, and I'm sure it depends on Mexican vs. Puerto Rican vs. whatever, but anyways), so it's funny that people don't default to Rodriguez just as much as Garcia.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:36 PM
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110: do you like trains?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:39 PM
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Lots of the Hispanic kids don't identify with the structurally racist aspects of being a minority. I think the Heebie U minority students would easily cite lots of examples of microaggressions, but you would also find a huge range of responses on whether they thought it added up to anything, and probably a lot of kids are internally conflicted and inconsistent in their position. So a white kid who is using his minority friends as a bellwether would find it easy to get confirmation bias on whether any incident was problematic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:39 PM
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111: Oh, I get that completely. I would be completely capable of remembering Jamie Rodriguez as Jamie CommonName, and coming up with Garcia instead -- I'd be much more likely to do that to a Rodriguez than to someone with a less common Spanish name.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:46 PM
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I'm basically not as bad at remembering faces as other people here, but the WORST WORST WORST is when you are genuinely confusing people of the same race, and trying to cover up your racism. "Is this the same server that was at our table a moment ago, with whom I placed my order? Or a similar person who is checking in because she's kind? Why didn't I pay closer attention AACK?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:48 PM
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Apparently Garcia is more common than Rodriguez if we can assume that PubMed citations are reflective of overall frequency.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:49 PM
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Both are less common than Gupta and everybody in the whole world is named Wang.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:51 PM
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All of those examples in the Buzzfeed images seemed pretty bad to me, but I get what Heebie is saying.

The "microaggressions' idea doesn't actually make much sense unless you are linking it to a broader concept of structural racism that in meaningful, tangible ways hurts the prospects of people of color. Otherwise you're just talking about pretty minor annoyances -- which, sure, are rude and silly and minorly annoying -- but are distinctly minor grievances of the kind that most people suffer through. (They aren't really categorically much different from what, say, a rural kid might imagine a city kid thinking about him or her, or vice versa).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:54 PM
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I think you're fundamentally mistaken, Heebie, that your Naive Young Texans are the intended audience for this. My sense is that much more likely audiences in mind were (a) people who can recognize and sympathize because they've experienced similar things, and (b) nice-minded liberal types who could stand to be more aware of the specific ways that other people's experiences include death by a thousand cuts.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:55 PM
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I am only listed in 18 articles in PubMed. I should work harder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:57 PM
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I do agree that 119 is probably mostly right. The actual audience for this thing is people who already agree basically with the premise, so worrying about propaganda value is silly. Still, I stand by 118 -- the whole "microagrgressions" idea is silly unless you also already believe that there are serious and important macro-aggressions going on.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:59 PM
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Well, that's highly possible. I do tend to get Naive Young Texan tunnel vision, where I start to think "Would I want to share this with my students?" if it seems aimed at a general audience. And I never ever think that a uncritical thinkers might have a basic liberal bent, because that seems so...fanciful. Like the existence of unions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:00 PM
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122 to 119.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:00 PM
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115: Oh, god do I want to carry around a doctor's note establishing that I can't tell apart white people either. It's true -- I really don't think I'm significantly worse at people of color than I am at white people -- but boy do I worry about being rude and looking racist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:05 PM
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According to the Census, in 2000 there were 858,289 Garcias and 804,240 Rodriguezes; out of all surnames, they ranked #8 and #9 respectively.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:14 PM
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"Ah there is one thing about them more wonderful than their numbers ... in all that vast number there is not more than 150 men called Gisgo."


Posted by: Opinionated Hannibal Facing the American Army | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:38 PM
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The theory of microaggressions really rings true to me, as an explanation of how exhausting it can be to be a minority. And the point isn't just that people are on autopilot, but that the weight of dealing with lots of tiny grievances is frustrating, in part because they're always there, and in part because one is expected to shrug them off, to be a good person.

So, less serious example. There aren't a lot of women in my subdiscipline in philosophy. So I attend a conference, where some of my questions are treated as if I'm a freshman who didn't do the reading. I get interrupted so others can talk with the big important speaker. Half of my students call my colleagues Dr. X and me Mrs. Y. Though I am not anywhere near the department secretary's office, students stop by regularly with administrative questions, or to ask me about my colleague's whereabouts as if their schedule is in my day planner. I hear that the department doesn't need to interview a woman because the dean was happy that there was one on the short list, so now they can hire the qualified man that they want. A student asks me if I'm married to one of my colleagues (because that's how women get to be professors, I guess.)

Now, each one of these things is tiny, and it would be stupid of me to get worked up, and unfair to the person on autopilot. But if you add them up, it starts to look like an argument for leaving the profession and doing something else with my time. And then someone says "they're pretty silly and minor annoyances!" -- and they are, individually. And that's what makes them frustrating. They're not twirling evil little mustaches.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:02 PM
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Yes, I get all that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:04 PM
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128: Do you mean that you understand, or that all those things happen to you as well?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:10 PM
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In fact, right now I want to make a joke about the 100th person who makes the strawman counterargument about how these insults actually do seem troublesome, because of the accumulated stress affect, but it would seem acerbically aimed at Cala, who was not necessarily doing so - probably just commenting on the phenomenon - but there sure has been a lot of it in this thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:13 PM
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130: Are you saying that PGD is made of straw? That would explain a lot.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:15 PM
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129: The former. I don't actually have things quite that egregious happen to me very often. I get called Ma'am a lot, and watched a bunch of the math-science faculty gang up unnecessarily yesterday on a new woman in power, so there is stuff going on, but not necessarily the same stuff.

Mostly I was reading it as though I was being accused of trivializing the minority experience, which has gotten tiring, and was most likely not what Cala was saying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:16 PM
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130: This is the same thing that happened when you posted about that Lady Gaga song -- your post was aimed at some second-level meta reaction to the song, and the comments were frustratingly unresponsive to what you were trying to say. Not that I know how to clarify things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:19 PM
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This reminds me of an awkward moment last year when I was talking to a prospective grad student, who happened to be African-American, and I found myself telling him that his research was "very impressive, especially for an undergrad", and I saw a look of horror cross his face for a split second before I got out "an undergrad".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:22 PM
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Oh yeah, I forgot about that. But yes. I don't remember what Lady Gaga point I was trying to make, though.

The problem is that if I read a lot, I'd have a lot of new things to talk about. But I'm not well-read, so I make increasingly complicated points about the same old topics. Whee blog quantity!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:23 PM
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as though I was being accused of trivializing the minority experience

Well, life is mostly trivial, you know. But all those trivialties add up after a while.

And before you know it, something as insignificant as everyone making the same obvious argument in an Unfogged thread, can make you want to scream.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:23 PM
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Does my failure to sign 136 make it even more meta?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:24 PM
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135: I judge you harshly for not coming up with a steady supply of interesting new posts. Slacker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:25 PM
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This post topic was literally the last one remaining on my current queue of topics, and it had been sitting there for a week or two, and I was drawing a blank.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:25 PM
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127 A student asks me if I'm married to one of my colleagues (because that's how women get to be professors, I guess.)

This is something that kind of bothers me about my relationship: I worry that it undermines my girlfriend's professional credibility.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:26 PM
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134: The completely wrong reaction I just had to that was to try and think of other possibly innocently garden-pathy microaggression sound-alikes. "Articulate" seems as if it'd have possibilities.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:27 PM
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141: Clean!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:28 PM
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Eh, whatever.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:33 PM
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139: Now that ogged is back shouldn't he be pulling his weight? Why hasn't he posted yet about the Dylan-France-hate crime case?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:34 PM
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pulling his weight?

If only SCMT were still around, he could point out that Ogged's weight has always been negligible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:36 PM
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I don't remember what Lady Gaga point I was trying to make, though.

Oh I remember! That she was trolling humorless feminists, which was annoying, even though I personally was not rising to the bait. I was second-degree-annoyed in solidarity with my less canny sisters.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:46 PM
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I actually thought you were making a more substantive critique of the microaggressions idea, which I tried to set out in 118.2. That is, the whole "microaggressions" concept doesn't really work unless you already accept the idea of the macroaggression. That is, experiences like Cala's in 127, while certainly annoying, aren't outside-the-norm annoying in a way that suggests a significant injustice, unless you also accept the (completely correct) premise that there's a lot of deep structural discrimination (in that case, against women in philosophy).

Which makes the microaggressions concept not particularly likely to turn someone who doesn't already believe in the concept of structural racism into someone who does.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:51 PM
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That is!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:52 PM
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118.2 was more eloquent version of what I was trying to say, yes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:58 PM
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115, 124: Same here. At my wedding I got one of the wedding planners confused with another. They were both black women. I wonder if I should have told them that genuinely have to work to avoid getting two of my co-workers confused with each other, and one of them is white and one is black, so it's really, really not a race thing, I think.

I probably wouldn't have worried so much about the wedding planners if there were any black guests present.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:59 PM
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I have the privilege of being annoyed at being asked where I'm from -- which is pretty frequent, honestly -- only because people really just want to hear one place name, and any single place I give will be wildly inaccurate for purposes of tribal identification. I choose from whichever of the following seems least likely to lead to further conversation on the subject: I was born in Connecticut, I grew up in Texas, I went to high school in the Bay Area, I'm a Bobcat, I spent 20 years as a lawyer in DC, I live up Grant Creek.

The wife is very annoyed at being asked -- which happens every single time she meets anyone new, because of her accent -- because she's tired of hearing everyone's stories about visiting Germany, having not lived there herself for 30 years now. (And having spent 20 of those years working in German politics, a sure way to dim anyone's nationalism.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:10 PM
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And as annoying as such things are for the privileged, it's obviously orders of magnitude more annoying for the oppressed. That said, I think it pretty hopeless. Clueless dumb people are going to be clueless and dumb. Everyone is going to be clueless and dumb some non-trivial percentage of the time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:15 PM
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I guess, if there's a utility to this sort of thing, it's as information to the goodheartedly clumsy -- like, if I'd read this back in 1994, I might have managed that lunch date better, or at least have fumbled it for individual reasons rather than racial insensitivity. And empathy-building for people who are fundamentally on board with opposing racism, but who don't directly experience this sort of thing, so don't have a sense of what it's like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:33 PM
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like, if I'd read this back in 1994, I might have managed that lunch date better

And then you might have had some little brown ones.


Posted by: Opinionated George H.W. Bush | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:39 PM
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My paralegal would have enjoyed posing for one of those pictures. She gets tired of kids thinking she's Pocohontas. And does get asked pretty regularly what tribe she's from. But compared to being followed around in stores, and people assuming she's going to be paying with EBT, I think that stuff is fairly benign.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:41 PM
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Or, to put it another way, something that comes up repeatedly in this sort of article is how wearing it is to be called on as the voice of whatever minority you belong to, or asked the same questions over and over again. And while I generally sympathize with the cluelessly inquisitive, there's something to be said for getting the idea out there that being cluelessly inquisitive at people is genuinely annoying and difficult for them -- articles like this might actually give some people in the goodheartedly clumsy category pointers on how to behave better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:42 PM
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Heebie, this was one of those threads where I had a lot of earnest things to say and so I said nothing because it's easier. I think the intendend audience was basically the photographed students themselves, that this was a chance to have their voices heard without regard to who'd be doing the hearing, which is why some of these seem to rise above the level of microaggressions because I think the students were so relieved to get to speak up about this in an encouraging setting.

That's similarly why I'm okay with the phrase "microaggression" because to me the "aggression" part draws out the power imbalance involved. And yet I do think it's nuanced and you're right that a lot of your students regardless of race and ethnicity wouldn't recognize it because they're not willing to see the overarching structure, the same reasons they had trouble with the New Jim Crow book. But I disagree that this was a post for them, I guess, just that it will be there for them when they're ready to see it.

This is not actually helpful or insightful but I'm really worn out all of a sudden.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:49 PM
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Hmm. Regarding 130: I mentioned minority stress way upthread. But I wasn't trying to explicitly make a counterargument (strawman or not). So, I'm just confused (or doing it wrong).


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:06 PM
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Not knowing the actual context of these micro-insults, yet I infer that these are students at a university, yes?

It seems to me that losing one's ignorance about the 'other'is part of the college experience. Sophomoric behaviour is not limited to second year students.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:11 PM
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Attempting to repost from yesterday:

I think RTFS is right in 119. BuzzFeed picked this up and turned it into yet another list but its origins seem to be in a student/young person's project. Even if there's also an intent here to change people's minds about what constitutes microaggression*, I think it's functioning more as community building: "oh, you get that sort of thing too!"

*I agree with everyone saying that microaggression really doesn't seem like the right word for many of these experiences. I've run into a bunch of these in my life, more often when I was younger, and aggression is generally not how I'd describe it. Although some people are very insistent about who "your people" are and what languages you should learn and what countries you should visit to better keep in touch with them.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:09 AM
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Although some people are very insistent about who "your people" are and what languages you should learn and what countries you should visit to better keep in touch with them.

Weird! No one ever tells me what parts of the British isles I should visit to learn about my people.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:17 AM
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No one ever tells me what parts of the British isles

OTOH, I do get that. Oh, you're Irish? You really should visit Ireland to learn about where your people come from.

I'm not Irish. I carry only a US passport. Also, Ireland seems nice and all, but I'd rather go be a tourist elsewhere.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:39 AM
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162 was me. I lost my personal info?! I blame the collapse of the blog.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:39 AM
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161: see a little book called Albion's Seed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:58 AM
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Hey, are we back up? Great timing, because:

OT: Rick Santorum is full of gobbledygook, to an extent that's just delightful in its bananas level. Um, what, Rick? It's sort of weird, actually, because Rick sounded like a surprisingly intelligent person on the Diane Rehm show just a few days ago.

However, carry on. I'm just jonesing for a political thread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:05 PM
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I often mix that title with Albion's Fatal Tree leading to Albion's Fatal Seed.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:10 PM
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124: Oh, god do I want to carry around a doctor's note establishing that I can't tell apart white people either

Yeah. I'm really bad at that. If white people look basically alike, and I haven't interacted with them in a meaningful way such that I attended to their faces and body language, I'm probably not going to recognize them if I run into them on the street. This causes embarrassment from time to time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:17 PM
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Santorum is full of gobbledygook, to an extent that's just delightful in its bananas level

Ew.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:17 PM
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165: I think he realized he was frightfully close to saying something supportive of nationalized health care so he quickly retreated into word salad.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:20 PM
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169: You think? The quoted words make absolutely no sense, and I was actually really surprised that he'd be that unprepared in his remarks. I honestly can't figure out what he thought he was trying to say. I mean: I'm correct in understanding that the UK does have nationalized health care, right? So ...

I'm sorry, I'm still laughing:

And the reason is because most people don't get sick, and so free health care is just that, free health care, until you get sick. Then, if you get sick and you don't get health care, you die and you don't vote.

Hilarious! What, Rick, what? Sorry to carry on, but I haven't boggled like this for a while. Sarah Palin we understand (she's not very bright), but Rick Santorum is actually an intelligent man. Maybe I just don't get his line of reasoning or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 1:00 PM
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||

I observe that three times now I've seen the term "think thanks" used in journalistic columns or blog posts. I'm going to assume this is is a thing now, rather than just a typo. ?

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Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 1:20 PM
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Sarah Palin we understand (she's not very brighthopped up on oxycodone)


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 1:27 PM
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She is? Is that a joke?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 1:46 PM
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170: I believe he's trying to explain why Obamacare will be very difficult to undo once it's in place, something pretty much everyone knows is true. Here in Realityland it's because people actually like government benefits, and because the number of people made better off by Obamacare will vastly outswamp the number (who believe themselves to be) made worse off. Obviously that explanation won't fly in Santorum's world, so his explanation of the inevitable entrenchment is that Obamacare will work fine for healthy people (they don't need health care) and the people who experience how awful Obamacare really is will DIE. So the electorate will increasingly be dominated by (healthy) people who are fine with Obamacare. Of course that's insane but I'm not sure why you are surprised at Santorum being insane.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 1:50 PM
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his explanation of the inevitable entrenchment is that Obamacare will work fine for healthy people (they don't need health care) and the people who experience how awful Obamacare really is will DIE.

I see. Thanks.

}}

I just found out a longtime friend, a fellow bookseller, died. I really loved him. I'm crying. Bye.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 2:06 PM
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||
Well, gosh, sending my wife to the ER with an eye injury - totally couldn't see out of one eye - is a lot less fun than the Christmas party we were trying to go to. The part where she didn't want me to call an ambulance, because of the expense, was just the icing on this particular crap-cake.
|>


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 2:24 PM
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175: I'm sorry for your loss.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 2:27 PM
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Santorum occasionally realizes that despite being the Christian sweater-vest guy he on the side of cruelty in every possible issue, which is why he has that pained look on his face that people respect.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 2:37 PM
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173: It's a guess, based on no evidence whatsoever.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 3:15 PM
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"Where are you from" is a pretty standard question for umpty-generations-Irish-in-Ireland people to ask each other, as part of ascertaining the three degrees of separation connections (six would be weirdly distant). So most of the time that it's asked of a new Irish person, the asker is probably cluelessly benign but the askee probably gets racist queries and statements all the frickin' time. "Where do you live" is probably less problematic.
(I'm not crazy about the term "new Irish" but probably best of a bad lot.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 3:20 PM
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I think Santorum is also troubled by the cognitive dissonance of "If Thatcher was such a hard-line conservative we're supposed to admire, why did she support the NHS?", since that's part of what the word salad is trying to explain.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 5:14 PM
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That is, the whole "microaggressions" concept doesn't really work unless you already accept the idea of the macroaggression.

Yes, and this is why microaggressions towards white people tend to stay in the accumulatively annoying category, rather than representations of anything more sinister.

Another aspect of microagressions that is really hard for the non-oppressed to understand is walking around expecting slights is a burden of racism. The "is he or isn't he" when it comes to wondering if people are being racist is a tremendously exhausting thing to deal with. POC get enough outright racist comments that it's legitimate to expect that there are racist people everywhere, and knowing if someone thinks you're inherently inferior to them is actually an important thing people want to know.

Similarly, there's simply the exhaustion from being asked the same dumb thing over and over again. It's not that only minorities can experience this, but generally they're the people singled out for one particular salient trait for people to remark on. It's actually extremely hard to be pleasant to someone making the same dumb comment for the 10th time in one day, and not because you think that person is any worse than the first person you made the comment. Lots of POC *know* the white person had good intentions and was just ignorant. It just gets really tiring of being on the receiving end of people's ignorance all the time. If you've never gotten this, imagine you heard the same bad joke 10 times a day, every day, and were expected to laugh at it each time like you'd just heard it, or people would be super offended.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:18 PM
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It's actually extremely hard to be pleasant to someone making the same dumb comment for the 10th time in one day...

Is this about the puns? Because I have been cutting back. Not on purpose but because Stanley isn't around as much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 11:34 PM
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The (rather large) company I work at is probably 95% Israelis, and yet I didn't remember the one Indian guy who just walked up to me, called me by name, and reminded me that we'd met in the smokers' balcony about a year ago. A year ago, and it was one cigarette, guy! And I'm just another Israeli out of the thousand or so who work here. Good job on remembering and making me feel bad.



Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-15-13 1:19 AM
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||

Does anyone know why my comments get rejected when I'm on my iPhone, but they go through fine from my laptop?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-15-13 7:19 AM
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Not to beat a dead horse, but these and their ilk all ring very true to me, and particularly in a way where I can viscerally remember brushing them off as a child, pausing before brushing them off as a teenager, fooling myself into brushing them off as a young 20 something, pretending to others to brush them off as a late 20s something while inwardly frowning, pretending to others to brushing the while inwardly grumbling in my early 30s, and these days weighing my status-based options between merely looking blankly or actually frowning, as a way to diffuse my inner seething. Which I think is consistent with the theory of microaggressions: one at a time they're just awkward conversation, but sytemic racism means that cumulatively they are a significant stressor.

Moreover, to me it was obvious that the audience for this was not the typical racial thinking autopilot, but minority students experiencing solidarity with each other and experiencing enough critical mass to feel safe expressing themselves to a an interested and sympathetic audience, one including majority students or adults at various stages of "consciousness" about their privilege. The BuzzFeed appropriation dynamic gets at exactly something I witnessed in schools---an adult of privilege who is somewhat more clueful than the typical privilege d adult gets excited about a testimonial from an underprivileged student--one with whom they perhaps have developed a real rapport---and eagerly shares it with all the other privileged adults in their community, convinced that this particiular testimonial will finally show the others the light. But taken out of its context of trust and openness and empathetic rapport, partially quoting the testimony only backfires. "Really? That's all you have?" the skeptically clueless and possibly even the skeptically clueful privileged respond, having almost no context of trust and affection for the kid beign quoted and a lot of subconscious practice in abstractly discounting them, thus now only further immunized against epiphany.

What does effect change of heart and habit among the privileged, in my limited experience, is getting person of privilege to have a real, independent rapport with someone underprivileged, and then hitting them with the underprivileged person's lived experience in a way they cannot deny without denying their own sense of connection to the person. Unfortunately that still stochastic process, in and of itself, is incredibly exhausting for the underprivileged, and can backfire if left only half-done. But at the end of the day the point is probably less to get the privileged to see their privileged than to give the unprivileged better tools to deal with power discrepancies, and creating changes of heart and habit may not a goal worth optimizing for any way.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 1:14 AM
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