My wife pointed me to an excellent, if infuriating, blog last night, and I was up until 2 AM reading through it.
Microaggressions is a blog about the little daily fuck-yous that populate the world if your race, gender, ethnicity, economic class, nationality, language, ability level, body type, or religion doesn’t meet with the approval of the majority. It’s just a series of tiny, painful stories. They neither have nor require context.
Me:: I can’t believe that someone could commit such a horrible crime. People can scare me sometimes. Guy:: You know, if black people don’t want to be called criminals… Me:: I didn’t say anything about what the man looked like. Guy:: [Silence]
As you can probably imagine, there are too many of these to count, and reading through the whole thing can leave you feeling rather ragged.
Some of them are very specific, and nearly unbelievable in their casual cruelty,
During track practice, we were doing push ups on the track and afterwards the hands of the boy next to me were stained red from the rubber. He turned to me, wiped his hands on his face and said in a fake accent, “Hello, my name is Sanjai, how can I help you with your computer today?” I’m partially South Asian.
While others are so commonplace that you just might encounter it from time to time on this very blog:
“Now let me just play Devil’s Advocate…”
Every guy who feels entitled to insert himself into a conversation about sexism in order to say something ignorant and sexist.
What they have in common is that to a one, they cause some pain. They cut, just a little. But there are thousands of them. They keep coming.
Because that’s what it’s like.
Whether reading it leaves you feeling a little ragged or not, this is a blog worth checking out. Especially if you’re a straight white guy.
Please do not comment unless you accept the basic dignity, equality, and inherent worth of all people.
I’m curious why you tagged this post “Anti-Semitism.” From what I’ve seen of the microaggressions site, it’s mostly served to remind me how alienated Jews are from anti-racism. Perhaps we’ve been told too many times that our struggles aren’t important, and many of us have learned to focus on others’ struggles as proxy, but I haven’t seen anything on that site that deals with antisemitism. (Btw, like Richard, I believe, I prefer to write simply antisemitism.) In fact, I don’t think many Jews would feel comfortable sending examples of the sorts of microaggressions we commonly face to the site for fear that we’d be rejected, since so many aggressions have been in the name of anti-racism. I suppose you have a goal of including antisemitism in with other anti-racisms, which is great, but it struck me as strange.
I included antisemitism because of microaggressions like this and this.
I think that Jews who feared to send in microaggressions for fear of rejection are likely to be pleasantly surprised if they do.
Edited to add: Also, I’m happy to use ‘antisemitism’, unhyphenated, but I didn’t set up the post categories in the first place, so I don’t really know how to change the category name. As far as my interaction goes, it’s just, “mark the checkbox next to ‘Anti-Semitism’ or not.”
This is an awesome site. Thanks, Myca.
Oh, cripes. The “devil’s advocate” people. Translated, “I don’t have the stones to actually say I agree with this argument, so I’ll pretend I’m ‘just playing devil’s advocate’ and then when it turns out my argument is stupid or weak or bigoted, I’ll protest that you mustn’t hold it against me, I don’t myself believe it.”
Thank you for the link; I had not heard of this site yet.
It’s nice to know that I’m not alone for the shit that I face every day, and I also really appreciate being able to get a glimpse of the way other people are marginalized, so I can be a better ally. It’s one thing to read “POC deal with racist shit every single day!” and another to know exactly what that entails.
Of course it is also depressing: I don’t get where these people (the bigots, not the victims) even come from that they think this kind of behavior is appropriate. Even when I encounter it myself (as in the guy who told me yesterday that I “don’t look handicapped” — I have terminal cancer), my first reaction is generally, “Am I being punked? This can’t really be happening.”
Matt, my perception has been that there are local differences in what groups are marginalized (and sometimes in how they’re marginalized.) It’s easy not to notice what’s happening in a different community…and sometimes kind of scary for me to realize “a different community” might be only a few miles away.
Myca, thanks, but while that is indeed something of a pleasant surprise, it’s not entirely what I was thinking of. Those are sort of easy, if you know what I mean. Yesterday a friend posted a comment on Facebook, and I wound up seeing a really hideous discussion. After I intervened (and did some good, I think) even the nicest person there was bringing up irrelevant “scholarship” based on 19th century race science claiming that Ashkenazi Jews aren’t actually Jews but Asian converts. All the while, these folks were trying to “teach” my friend something about how to fight racism — because, don’t you know, Jews think they’re the chosen people, and we’re all racist. Oh, and the original comment my friend responded to blamed Jews for the oil spill in the Gulf. (It stretched back in time.) It’s no wonder my friend (primarily active on animal rights and environmental issues – actually cited in Jonathan Safran Foer’s book) is skeptical about the arguments used on the Left regarding racism.
I think Julie has mentioned before a bit from the doc, “Young, Jewish, and Left” where a Left-Jewish group made a sign for their organization for an upcoming march with lots of different groups. But no one actually wanted to hope the sign. Also striking to me, the doc features no one who isn’t primarily involved in some other struggle. (Most are queer.) I also recall that Yitz Jordan (Y-Love) also once had a post about an anti-racism rally here in New York, huge with all kinds of groups and signs but none about antisemitism. In fact, those groups that focus on fighting antisemitism are widely viewed as right-wing. So while I am glad to see those examples, and thank you for bringing them to my attention, they seem soft.
Sure, I’d agree that those are easy … but what, “Hello, my name is Sanjai, how can I help you with your computer today,” isnt? I think that largely it’s the nature of the beast.
You should submit one of the interactions that’s been bothering you, like the “Jews are responsible for the the oil spill in the Gulf” conversation. Hopefully it would be accepted. If not, I’d like to hear why.
Also striking to me, the doc features no one who isn’t primarily involved in some other struggle.
As I, Y-Love, or any anyone on jocflock/maishtana can attest, the white jewish community can foster some nasty racism just like white gentiles.
My experience (as someone in the detroit suburbs/ann arbor area) is of anti-black and latino racism from Conservative/orthodox white jews. Not that they were ever encouraged to “focus on others struggles as a proxy.”
I have known some micro-aggressions to fly the other way more often, generally in the form of wanting credit for anti-racism, ignoring and denying covert racism in favor of remembering the “struggle” in which many Jews felt instrumental, and pressure to assimilate that is completely insensitive to the inflexibility of visible race markers, and substitutes “invisible” ones as therefore disposable and unnecessary “barriers to acceptance”. Of course the only proper answer to those is “wouldn’t it just be easier on you if you converted??” delivered with an innocent bat of the eyelashes and hopefully a flash of anger and a glimmer of recognition…
With some of these, I’m really trying to sort out what’s “micro” about them exactly. Some of them are just outright bigoted, hostile, racist, etc.
Is it because there’s some pretense of being social/friendly/conversational?