“Have you ever said something to someone of another culture or ethnicity and later wondered if it was patronising or slightly racist?” - the BBC (8.1.2016)
What doesn't seem like racism, is racism. Our problem is that we don't know the truth about racism. Well-paid academics, however, do. They pierce through the veil of perception to find the truth (e.g., “racism is systemic and everywhere”) behind it.
Thus the whole anti-racist thing has taken on new Orwellian forms. Those who don't see themselves as racist are suffering from what the economist Mary Rowe called “innocent ignorance”, which is itself a result of “unconscious bias”. In other words, not seeing oneself as a racist doesn't mean that you aren't racist. Instead, let some Ivy League academic clarify your position for you. You may not like what he/she says.
The term “microaggresion” was coined by a psychiatrist named Chester M. Pierce. That was in 1970, so clearly it took quite some time to catch on; or, at the least, to become the fashionable meme that it is today.
Microaggressions have been called “the new face of racism”. The bag is that good-old-fashioned racism has been supplanted by racisms which are more “subtle, ambiguous and often unintentional”. Yes, racism is still seen as being a big problem. The thing is that most racisms nowadays are actually microaggressions.
Now let's get down to some hardcore anti-racist theology (or theory). Derald Wing Sue, for example, believes that there are three kinds of microaggresion. None of the three kinds refers to direct physical violence. Instead what we have is “microassault”, microinsult” and “microinvalidation”. The term “microassault” includes “discriminatory action, avoidant behaviour and name-calling”. “Microinsult” includes “hidden insulting messages”, insensitivity and rudeness. Finally, “microinvalidation” is a case of the roundabout negation of “ethnic identity” and “pride”.
What a puritanical world these progressive theorists (or theologians) belong to. It all boils down to the belief that there is racism everywhere and at all times. Or as Anita Saarkesian put it:
"… everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic and you have to point it all out to everyone all the time...”
(This has been classed as a “cherry-picked quote”. However, the full quote simply adds detail and context. Saarkesian still believes that everything is racist, etc. (See here.)
The incredible thing is that ethnic minority groups who don't accept that they've been the victims of racism, have been the victims of racism. Or, I should say, the victims of microaggression.
You see, the real motivation behind microaggressions theory (as with much anti-racism) is the political desire for complete radical political/social change.
According to one study, for example, it's the case that black Americans are expected to “represent” other black Americans. That is, they're expected to be “proud of their identity” and thus to also propagate it. The researchers, of course, see this as a bad thing. Now this very same study also came to the exact opposite conclusion. In this case it was claimed that black Americans are put under pressure (by evil white people) to “act white”. This is also seen as a bad thing by the said researchers.
So, to reiterate, the study (although I use that term loosely) came to two diametrically opposed findings when it came to black Americans. One, that blacks are expected to represent all black people. Two, that blacks are also put under pressure to “act white”.
The same thing has occurred with another study of “African Americans”. On the one hand this study concluded that microaggressions are worse (in the long run) than explicit acts of physical and verbal racism. Such “tacit racism” causes “isolation” and “self-doubt”. On the other hand, microaggresive racism (in the long run) also tends to make black Americans “more resilient”.
Finally, positive comments towards black Americans are often actually... yes, negative comments... in disguise.
But none of this really matters. What does matter is chipping away at “white capitalist society” by “any means necessary”. What matters is “radical change” - endless and unceasing radical change. Revolution.
As I said earlier, microaggressions theory has it that much racism isn't seen as racism. It's also the case that many racists don't see themselves as being racist. Basically, every white person who doesn't endorse these recondite theories simply must be a racist. Indeed, in ultra-extreme anti-racism, even a white middle-class defender of “intersectionality” could be deemed to be (closet) racist.
The thing about microaggressions theory is that real racism may (or is) ignored under the weight of silly artifactual microaggressions. After all, if you cry wolf enough times you'll eventually be ignored. Amitai Etzioni, for example, has claimed that the fixation on microaggressions means that real racism (not theoretical racism!) is often ignored under the weight of pretend microaggressions (see here).
An article in The Atlantic also expressed concern that the obsession with microaggressions can actually cause more emotional trauma than the microaggressions themselves (see here).
In addition, most of these microaggressions are so minor that even those who champion the fight against them admit that they “occur at the unconscious level”. In other words, both the instigators and the victims simply don't know that they're taking part in in a tête-à-tête of microaggresion. Still, what does occur remains “denigration”.Conclusion
It almost sounds like a statement of the obvious to say that an obsession with racism – or with microaggressions – feeds paranoia and thus in the process creates the sickness of over-sensitivity. Thus it's no surprise that City Journal (amongst others) has called the whole show a “farce, and a fad” .
It's crystal clear that microaggression theory feeds off an already infantile sense of victimhood. Moreover, our society – with the help of mollycoddled academics – has become ill with victimhood. So much so that the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has said that to be a fully-fledged victim is to reach the “height of this culture”.
So no wonder there's so much noise coming from the propagators and the supposed victims of microaggression.