The Perils of Micro-activism

I used to love reading about microaggressions, comments or slights that happen in the course of everyday life that sting because of assumptions made about the targeted person’s identification within a specific group. It’s the ‘you’re not really black’ comment said to the grammatical correct Black women, the ‘is English your first language?‘ asked of the the third generation American or the ‘I thought all Asians were good at math’ comment to a high schooler struggling in Trigonometry. I’ve had a faux pas (or more) in my lifetime: telling a colleague of mine that I would not match her Korean features with her Polish last name or exclaiming (in genuine awe), ‘that white girl can really dance!’

I would read about others’ experiences with daily ignorance to commiserate. It’s comforting to know that others stories are similar to mine and sometimes, I would even get ideas on what to say and how to react. I believed that while these moments were unpleasant, even painful, they were the cost that we paid for living in an integrated society. It seems in 2020, what was once viewed as ignorance and prejudice has been elevated from micro to macro-level racism, a word so overused and overplayed, it barely has meaning.

And that’s a good thing for those who wish to dilute it’s definition in order to cast a wider net to ensnare people. Take Samantha Ware’s now infamous unrelated response to Lea Michele’s tweet about George Floyd. The national conversation at this moment was about the death of another unarmed black man at the hands of police and the desperate need for reform. And what has she got to add? ‘Traumatic microaggressions?’ You have to be bold to stand on the back of a national dialogue about police brutality and make it about someone threatening to ‘s*** in a wig.’

Recently, I posted the video of the Michigan couple charged with felonious assault for an incident in a Chipotle parking lot. The alleged bump between the white woman shown and a teenager was enough to convince the unidentified individuals in the video that the woman was racist. The bar is now that low. And it doesn’t even have to be evident, just assumed.

The rise of the media attention on ‘{Enter location} {Enter generic white sounding name}’ also coincides with the rise of micro-activism and its raison d’√™tre: microaggressions. Why bother solving problems that can help a people when you can just get rid of a person? It takes less time and nowadays, yields results in days, sometimes less. These kind of ‘victories’ only whet the appetite of people so far removed from the satisfaction of justice and change, that they’ll accept the far inferior substitutes of personal attack and degradation as a social justice win.

Author: k allisse

This journal is my exploration of all things: social, political, faith based, artistic, popular and of course, uselessly random.

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