The word “microaggression” has cropped up with increased frequency over the last year, to the point that now I see it almost daily! What does it mean?
Webster’s says it has “no meaning.” It’s not a word. It doesn’t exist! Various blogs, papers, and online source provide a definition, but they’re not “official” dictionaries.
And then, I found www.microaggressions.com. This site was obviously built by people who can’t stand anyone who might, kinda, sorta, could have some kind of privilege going for them. According to this site “microaggression” is defined as:
“Racial micro aggressions are 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.”
I have said it before… words no longer have meaning and this is another perfect example of why. This definition specifically says it’s aimed at people of color.
Based on the many “microaggression” stories I’ve covered, the definition should read as follows:
micro aggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults towards; __________. (INSERT – anyone identifying as LGBTQ, a woman, a minority, or some other subset of people, no matter how ridiculous.)
Recently, at Brandeis University, the Asian American Students Association was accused of microaggression for putting up a display to explain microaggression using only Asians.
A group at Oberlin University had to issue a warning of microaggression or triggering alerting readers they were about to see “Discussion of rape culture, online harassment, victim blaming, and rape apologism and denialism. Really? Did they need a warning?
Recently, Johns Hopkins University refused to allow Chick-Fil-A to open on campus because the campus LGBTQ club considered it an act of microaggression. So, now anyone or anything that offends is microaggression? Well, kinda, sorta. It really only seems to apply to certain groups.
If you ask me to remove my Bible from view, you will consider that your right not to be “assaulted” by my belief. However, by the definitions above, wouldn’t that be considered a microaggression toward me and my religion?
The latest in microaggressions was reported at Arizona State University. Students petitioned staff to change the name of pedestrian walkways. Why, you ask? Because not everyone can walk and that COULD be viewed as a microaggression to someone in a wheelchair or on crutches. Even the people who were supposed to be offended (those in wheelchairs or on crutches) thought this was ridiculous.
So what’s the magic formula? Is it considered a microaggression if it leaves out even one person? Have we raised a group of individuals who don’t know that pedestrian crossings were put in place to protect people not in a vehicle?
Since most of these microaggression dustups seem to happen on college campuses, maybe we need to add “Common Sense Definitions 101” to orientation.
One of the people interviewed at Arizona State said, “I was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing this sign.” Why? What would make this a big deal for this person? A sign made them uncomfortable. He was on crutches for a temporary period for whatever reason. Was he concerned someone would see him on crutches and he was embarrassed? Was it because he felt guilty for using the crosswalk when he was so healthy otherwise? It makes no sense. It’s a crosswalk. That doesn’t mean it’s for people with 2 physically healthy legs. It means it’s for non-vehicles.
This person is going to have a very hard life if a crosswalk sign caused him this much trauma!
So again I ask, what is the magic formula? Is it how many people are offended? A percentage of the whole campus or event? Does it only apply to certain groups?
What about some of the curriculum that’s offensive to certain religious groups? Is that a form of microaggression? Probably not. Religious people are weird, so it’s ok to make fun of them and treat them differently. No problem!
Based on my research, I’ve concluded that microaggression is defined as:
A made-up word used to try to intimidate those who are too concerned about political correctness. It is aimed at non-issues that ultimately hurt no one but a few overly sensitive “humans” (that’s still an OK term, I hope) to create a distraction away from the real issues.
Our kids are graduating with record high debt, few prospects for jobs, and are still undereducated. Oh wait, that’s probably a form of microaggression. But isn’t everything?