Microaggressions, Invisibility and Reality
Microaggressions, Invisibility and Reality
When did we become a nation of perpetually offended? It seems barely a week goes by without someone claiming a new form of micro-aggression. I can usually laugh it off. After all, if I don’t, I’ll become macro-aggressed and that’s not a good thing. Unfortunately, this morning I saw an article on The Daily Caller that not only had me shaking my head but wondering what in the world they are teaching in schools today. It seems two professors claim to have discovered a new form of micro-aggression. Nothing surprising there. Their sample base to support this so-called discovery is. They interviewed – wait for it – 13 non-white women at five different campuses and from this small group discovered “invisibility microaggressions”, of which there are five different forms. My first reaction was to wonder if a microaggression from this small a group was a micro-microaggression. Then I wondered if it was all a joke. But no. There is a professional paper written about it. C’mon, give me a break.
So, what is a microaggression, other than the current buzz word of the socially enlightened?
The Daily Caller, and presumably Professor Jasmine Mena and Professor Annemarie Vaccaro, define microaggression as “when someone — say a white person — asks an Asian person where they’re from. While the question isn’t offensive in and of itself, the act of asking a person who may get the same question repeatedly throughout the week can be annoying and therefore offensive.” I don’t know about you, but I’m micro (or is it macro?) aggressed by this example that it would be a “white” person asking. But then, in the parlance of all too many social justice mavens, only whites can aggress.
“Invisibility microaggresion”, according to the professors, falls into “environmental” and “interpersonal” forms. The former occurs when these women are “among the few, or only non-whites in a workplace or communal context.” Interpersonal invisibility microaggressions supposedly “hinder non-white people in everyday work roles because their ethnicity or gender is being ignored or because they don’t see other non-white people there.” The solution is to do away with the meritocracy on college campuses when it comes to instructors and administrators. Don’t recognize the merit of these microaggressed people like you would any other employee. Instead, the college administration should select “non-white women for high-profile awards and celebrate them on alumni magazines, newsletters, and other materials.” They should be “especially vigilant” in recommending the offended for leadership roles. Again, without looking at merit.
Here’s the problem with all this. To begin with, they had a study sample of 13. THIRTEEN out of how many “women of color” in all the universities and colleges across the country? Based on the article in the Daily Caller, as well as the corresponding article in Campus Reform, we don’t know how the professors define “women of color” or “white”. Nor do we know how they selected the 13 participants in the study. We don’t know what questions they asked or what protocols they had in place to verify the information gathered. We also don’t know what campuses they went to or the social, economic or racial breakdown for the campuses. In other words, there are a lot of questions and one has to wonder if the data wasn’t carefully skewed to fit a predetermined conclusion.
But here is the real kicker. As noted in the Daily Caller, this form of microaggression doesn’t require a second person to be the “aggressor”. All that is needed is for someone to “feel invisible in an environment.” My head almost exploded with the next comment: “A lone black person among a sea of white faces could qualify as one of these invisibility microaggressions — especially if he or she isn’t singled out for being black.” Wait, I’m confused. We aren’t supposed to single someone out because of their sexual orientation or race or creed or any of that and yet, not to single them out is to put them in danger of falling victim to “invisibility microaggression”?
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I don’t care about the color of a professor’s skin or what their sexual orientation might be (as long as they aren’t breaking the law). I don’t care about their political orientation as long as they aren’t spouting it at every chance – unless, of course, it is pertinent to the class. What I do care about is having qualified instructors teaching my child. More than that, I want the best qualified instructors and administrators available.
What about the “white” female instructors who have felt the same way as these 13 “women of color”? Are they to be punished simply because they don’t have the right skin tone? Because that is what these professors appear to be advocating. The female instructor who has felt marginalized over the years doesn’t qualify as a victim of “invisibility microaggression” because of the color of her skin. Isn’t that a microaggression in and of itself?
When are we going to say this is getting ridiculous and get back to the real problems that plague our education system, both public and private? When are we going to address the real problems facing our country in the forms of security, economics and foreign and domestic relations? When are we going to grow the hell up and admit we bear some responsibility for how we feel and what role we take in our society?
I was raised to be proud of being female and to take no guff off of anyone who tried to use my sex against me. But I was taught to do it with the man and without becoming a professional victim. I learned I won’t always be the best at everything I do and that there will be the occasional failure. I don’t expect anyone to step aside for me because I’m female if they are more qualified for a job. In other words, I wasn’t raised to be a victim and, as I look at our society today, I fear we have a generation that is filled with victims who expect recognition because they want it and not because they earned it. Worse, we have academics who are willing to give credence to their feelings because these academics want to show how socially aware they are. That will, I hope, run its course and disappear. In the meantime, we will continue to have the perpetually victimized and butt-hurt.