Micro-aggressions

130 posts / 0 new
Last post
potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Sep 8 2016 10:09
Micro-aggressions

It's a term I've only just heard of. What do Libcommers think of Micro-aggressions? What are they? How should they be defined? Are they being miss-used?

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
Offline
Joined: 23-10-12
Sep 8 2016 10:53
Quote:
The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Sep 8 2016 11:07

For some reason it's a term that really gets people's backs up - I suspect maybe based on an instinctive defensive reaction to the term aggression.

However, I think the concept is really useful - it's useful to be able to categorise and understand the ways that people reinforce racism on a day to day basis, in ways short of obvious out and out "hard" racism.

It's also good for recognising many of the shitty day to day (often unintentional) incidents that black and poc people deal with in liberal, left and radical contexts.

potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Sep 8 2016 13:21

Could someone please give me an example of a micro-aggression?

the button's picture
the button
Offline
Joined: 7-07-04
Sep 8 2016 13:54
potrokin wrote:
Could someone please give me an example of a micro-aggression?

Typical.

^ That's one.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 14:13

I'm no expert but this is probably one

My mum is disabled and has a disabled parking badge. People would make comments about where she was parking and she would show them the badge and they would say 'You're not disabled!'

People would go around telling her she wasn't disabled or say behind her back (but in front of her kids) that she was not really disabled, implying she was mad. My mum had to have two major operations and was in constant pain. Now she can hardly walk at all, so people have stopped accusing her of not being disabled but it was an ongoing thing throughout my childhood.

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Sep 8 2016 14:41

A common example is asking a BME person where they are "really" from / originally from / some similar formultation.

eg "so where are you from?"
"London"
"But where are you really from?"

Which even if it's not the intent of the person asking, can still give a sense of "you don't really belong here, you are different".

potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Sep 8 2016 15:26
fingers malone wrote:
I'm no expert but this is probably one

My mum is disabled and has a disabled parking badge. People would make comments about where she was parking and she would show them the badge and they would say 'You're not disabled!'

People would go around telling her she wasn't disabled or say behind her back (but in front of her kids) that she was not really disabled, implying she was mad. My mum had to have two major operations and was in constant pain. Now she can hardly walk at all, so people have stopped accusing her of not being disabled but it was an ongoing thing throughout my childhood.

Bloody hell- I see, thats awful. I'm sorry to hear you all had to go through that.

potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Sep 8 2016 14:57
Fall Back wrote:
A common example is asking a BME person where they are "really" from / originally from / some similar formultation.

eg "so where are you from?"
"London"
"But where are you really from?"

Which even if it's not the intent of the person asking, can still give a sense of "you don't really belong here, you are different".

I see, thankyou for that. I guess then another example would be someone saying that women are not as good at Maths as men ,for example, or that they are bad drivers.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 14:56

I was just about to say that one about where are you really from smile

If you are in a place where you are supposed to be, you work there or live there or you study there, and if you are black you get made to produce your ID all the time and if you are white you don't.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Sep 8 2016 14:56

A mrico-aggression is often in itself a pretty meaningless incident but when it happens to you constantly it has a big effect.
For example when I was a kid I used to end up crossing the road all the time because old ladies kept getting scared because I was tall, young and walk fast. The fact that an old lady keeps looking back at you as you walk along the street isn't in itself a big deal. But it's frustrating when it happens all the time. It's hard to imagine the cumulative effect of these micro-aggressions if you've never dealt with them and I've not had to deal with too much of it myself. Now those old ladies weren't trying to make me feel like a criminal but they did.

Because they're so small and not always intentional their effects are constantly ignored, mocked and minimised. In the same way as a sexual harasser says "I wouldn't mind if someone walked up to me and asked for a shag" people often completely dismiss the effects and I imagine it feels like being gaslighted.

It's just something worth bearing in mind. At work I often have to read names, I can't avoid mispronouncing new ones but I can make an effort to let the person correct me and then not make the mistake again. Someone mispronouncing your name every time would drive you insane, but if you're a white giy named John and someone mispronounces your name you could easily laugh it off because you have the security that "everyone knows how to say my name" and none of the cumulative emotional, a bit like people saying "I wouldn't mind if someone calls me a honky so why do they get so upset..."

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 15:03

Yeah I suppose part of the issue is things that if someone gets upset people are all 'what's wrong with you' because they only see one tiny thing, and the problem is these things are cumulative.

I was at two union meetings in a week, and in one, when a woman was talking two men started to talk amongst themselves and rustle their papers around, and when she stopped and a man started talking they paid attention, as if the woman talking was the signal for a little tea break and the man talking was the resumption of the meeting. Then in the second meeting something sexist happened, I don't remember what, and later that week there was a union thing happening (we were going on strike, that's why there was a lot going on) and a shop steward was a bit sexist and I went ballistic and it was all 'what's wrong with you' and it was because it was the third one in a week.

potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Sep 8 2016 15:36

Thankyou for your responses. It's just not a term I've known of until very recently. Looks like myself and my girlfriend may have been on the receiving end of some. My girlfriend is older than me and it has been remarked upon negatively in public a couple of times, which ofcourse pissed off both myself and my girlfriend. Even 'positive' remarks about our age difference are annoying, since we don't think of it as relevant to mention age at all. Personally, I also find it really annoying when people miss-use the word psychotic as I've suffered from psychotic episodes a few times.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 15:07
potrokin wrote:
I see, thankyou for that. I guess then another example would be someone saying that women are not as good at Maths as men ,for example, or that they are bad drivers.

So imagine a woman bus driver, and the amount of comments she might get in a week (where I live there are loads of women bus drivers now, but a few years ago maybe not) and then all those comments add up. Also there was massive opposition by men to women being allowed to become bus drivers so not just an issue of 'jokes' but also women being deliberately kept out of the better paid jobs.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Sep 8 2016 16:23

This story has been doing the rounds this week and I think it's relevant because quite often people who are doing the micro-aggressions don't even realise that they are doing it.

Dad Confronts His Own Racial Bias
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dad-confronts-his-own-racial-bias-in-viral-post_us_57c6fdc6e4b078581f107d22

Often people who genuinely think they are free of racism, sexism, homophobia etc make these comments or actions without understanding the effect that they have on other people. As other posters have said, it's the cumulative effect of micro-aggressions which stack up. People can be quite defensive when it's pointed out to them, especially if they mean well but are generally being a bit clueless.

Then there's the problem of pointing out micro-aggressions as they happen. Is it worth the aggro of explaining every damned time, especially if it might lead to some conflict? If you do call them out, are you likely to be perceived as overly sensitive or a bit of a victim? Some people react very well to having the effects of their behaviour pointed out to them, others not so much.

Sometimes I think when people complain about call-out culture (which I don't want to get into) it's because someone has had a micro-aggression pointed out to them and they feel like they've been put on the back foot because they feel they've had their self identification as being not racist/sexist/whatever challenged, whereas I think we should recognize that every single one of us is capable of this sort of thing, whether we mean to or not.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Sep 8 2016 18:47

I don't know that the distinct category is all that useful, but perhaps for being able to call someone something other than racist. But you can point out 'hey that's a stereotypical/racist view because it assumes my behavior based on some feature etc.' without recourse to the phrase micro-aggression or calling the individual a racist.

In fact, aggression implies intent. In terms of the policies of organized political groups, it makes sense to not assume aggression, allowing, of course, that harassment can occur unintentionally.

Of course the experiences are undeniable, I'm just throwing some thoughts out about how we conceptualize it. 'micro-aggression' seems to lend itseof to a 'politics of personal choice' where racism, etc. Are reduced to individual behavior/attitudes and the social roots are ignored (if mentioned in passing).

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Sep 8 2016 19:54

While pointing out the above examples of everyday prejudice (unconscious or otherwise) above is right enough and people should be pulled up on it, I have to say, the term "micro-aggression" sounds like more shit straight from the bowels of psycho-therapy or liberal academia. Are those members of the radical intelligentsia who coin such alienating terminology paid for every new example of wordwankery they happen to discharge? For fuck sake, we're talking about unconscious or "petty" racism, sexism or disablism here. Do we really need more bullshit jargon to dress up such prejudice into something that sounds a bit like bad behaviour in your therapy group? I fucking despair sometimes.

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
Sep 8 2016 21:16

I love the term microagression, it is exactly what happens and it makes you think you're losing it. It's the social equivalent of repeatedly putting someone's keys in the fridge until they're convinced there's something wrong with them.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Sep 8 2016 21:20

Serge:

The word has been around since the early 1970s and is something which was coined specifically to describe the affects of everyday, low grade racism on the mental health of POC. It's hardly a new idea, although has subsequently been expanded to describe the same thing with other groups. I always find that having precise words to describe the precise thing is a benefit to discussion, not a hindrance.

Also, lay off the ableist bulshit will you.

Quote:
sounds like more shit straight from the bowels of psycho-therapy

Quote:
like bad behaviour in your therapy group

You often express that you don't like new vocabulary, concepts or anything much which happened after 1979 but I bet my ass that they're not a few people reading this forum who have had mental health problems and maybe been in psychotherapy, so try not to use it as a slur.

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
Sep 8 2016 21:33

For me it is just a good way to think about and to a lesser extent talk about difficult things without having to dig out the big D word (discrimination) every time. It neatly addresses the issue of people thinking you're being oversensitive which is so easily levelled at people who experience these things.

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
Sep 8 2016 21:57

.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 22:22

Whether or not you like the term microaggression is not as important as looking at how to deal with the impact of the real life problem.

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Sep 8 2016 22:26
Serge Forward wrote:
While pointing out the above examples of everyday prejudice (unconscious or otherwise) above is right enough and people should be pulled up on it, I have to say, the term "micro-aggression" sounds like more shit straight from the bowels of psycho-therapy or liberal academia. Are those members of the radical intelligentsia who coin such alienating terminology paid for every new example of wordwankery they happen to discharge? For fuck sake, we're talking about unconscious or "petty" racism, sexism or disablism here. Do we really need more bullshit jargon to dress up such prejudice into something that sounds a bit like bad behaviour in your therapy group? I fucking despair sometimes.

Aye, sounds right from academia, combinating "micro" and "aggression", 2 words you hear nowhere outside of the ivory tower.

We should stick to good old every day words, "anarcho-communism", "alienation" etc.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 8 2016 22:44

Look, I've found it difficult when loads of people are suddenly using words around me and I don't know what they mean, but if people are not deliberately being exclusive about it (which would be bad) then it's probably an inevitable part of change and the development of language and a bit of a generation gap thing.

You don't need to use a word or concept if it doesn't feel right for you, but you don't need to feel that other people using it is a direct attack on you either or that because it's not useful for you it's not useful at all.

I still walk round calling bicycles 'pushbikes' and referring to the 'DSS' and everyone just makes allowances.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Sep 9 2016 01:07
Fleur wrote:
Serge:

The word has been around since the early 1970s and is something which was coined specifically to describe the affects of everyday, low grade racism on the mental health of POC. It's hardly a new idea, although has subsequently been expanded to describe the same thing with other groups. I always find that having precise words to describe the precise thing is a benefit to discussion, not a hindrance.

Also, lay off the ableist bulshit will you.

Quote:
sounds like more shit straight from the bowels of psycho-therapy

Quote:
like bad behaviour in your therapy group

You often express that you don't like new vocabulary, concepts or anything much which happened after 1979 but I bet my ass that they're not a few people reading this forum who have had mental health problems and maybe been in psychotherapy, so try not to use it as a slur.

Me included, Fleur.

I didn't know the term had been around that long either. In fact, I must lead a sheltered life because first I'd heard of it was this thread. You live and learn eh. Point I'm trying to make is, why not say someone is making a prejudiced comment or being discriminatory? What's the point of softening it with phrases like "micro aggression"?

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Sep 9 2016 01:12
fingers malone wrote:
I still walk round calling bicycles 'pushbikes' and referring to the 'DSS' and everyone just makes allowances.

DHSS, surely?

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Sep 9 2016 18:09

You got me there comrade

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Sep 9 2016 19:21

‘Micro-aggression’ may be a more accurate term, though ‘irritating little shit’ is more satisfying to say.

DHSS used to be ‘going down the broo’ (alteration of bureau).

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
Sep 9 2016 20:18
Serge Forward wrote:
fingers malone wrote:
I still walk round calling bicycles 'pushbikes' and referring to the 'DSS' and everyone just makes allowances.

DHSS, surely?

It was the DSS (department for social security) before it got merged with health, can't believe I am the resident 80s expert here or have I got it wrong?

Edit - phew turns out I am incorrect in my historical facts. DHSS preceded DSS.

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
Sep 9 2016 20:18

Plus ca change plus la meme chose.

Mr. Jolly's picture
Mr. Jolly
Offline
Joined: 28-04-11
Sep 9 2016 20:38

waiting for quantum aggression to make an appearance.