Friday, June 9, 2017

Micro-Agressed

  I was listening to a podcast where the subject was “micro-aggressions” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)”. . The podcast gave examples of micro-aggressions. Asking someone where they are from was considered a micro-aggression because it is highlighting that they come from somewhere else are different from everyone else. I don’t ask people where they are from because I don’t care but I have been asked plenty of times where I am from and never realized that I was a victim of micro-aggression. It could be that as a white male I am incapable of being a ‘micro-aggressee’ but in my opinion being an east coast native living in the Midwest qualifies me as a member of a marginalized group and therefore affords me the luxury of being the victim of micro-aggressions.

  Another example of a micro-aggression was holding the door open for someone because as the theory goes it implied that the beneficiary of the door-holding is in some manner weak or helpless and just not capable of holding the door open for themselves. I’ve held the door open for both women and men. Sometimes men insist I go first and I go first because I would rather get where I’m going rather than argue. A couple of times a woman got upset with me holding the door but most don’t so I think I’ll continue to hold the door open because I would rather be considered micro-aggressive than rude.

  I saw examples of micro-aggressions from the University of Minnesota website. I think I would put telling someone “they are a credit to their race” or “You speak good English” to be more of a macro-aggressions than micro-aggressions. I did find it interesting that having an excess of liquor stores in a minority neighborhood is considered a micro-aggression since my neighborhood in Marshalltown is having two more liquor stores opening in the next two months along with the Liquor Depot and the 7 Rayos liquor store that opened on main street a couple of years ago. Throw in the fact that all the convenience stores now offer liquor in addition to beer and wine and even the Hy-Vee supermarket and Wal-Mart have separate liquor sections and I think that it is not a micro or macro aggression but an economic reality that there is a lot of liquor being purchased in Marshalltown, Iowa. I could probably make the case that since every place to buy liquor is in close proximity to an ATM the excess of liquor stores in a neighborhood is a sign of great wealth.

  I saw another set of micro-aggression examples on Buzzfeed and these also seemed pretty macro-aggressive to me. Asking someone why their “daughter is so white” seems pretty aggressive to me, how about you? Another site said by using pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ was ‘micro-aggressive’ because I was making assumptions of the gender identity of the pronoun’s subject.

  I really like the idea of micro-aggressions since armed with this concept I can be insulted by anything and everything from anyone and everyone. I was in a bad mood last week and someone said ‘Good morning’ to me. Back in my naïve days I wouldn’t have given that comment a second thought but now I saw that comment as a micro-aggressive taunt since the speaker presumed I didn’t have DPSD (Delayed sleep phase disorder) which could cause me to never have a good morning. I moped through the day hardly getting anything done but it was OK because after all I was a victim of micro-aggression and could hardly be expected to function at full capacity.

  I even took my newfound knowledge of micro-aggression to a well-known chess website. I was immediately victimized by micro-aggressive behavior , complained to the powers-that-be, and was declared the winner.

pgn4web chessboards courtesy of pgn4web.casaschi.net

  Unfortunately, the rematch did not work out nearly as well.

  After observing so much about micro-aggressions I decided become an expert in the niche category of micro-micro-aggression and have discovered many examples in myself and others. I’ve been teaching a six-session chess class in Grimes this summer. I was just about to compliment one of the class members on an astute observation when I realized that the compliment would have been a micro-micro-aggressive gesture towards the other students since the unsaid comment would be that they were somehow inferior so I held my tongue and didn’t compliment anyone for anything in order not to victimize anyone for anything.

  When the class was over I headed home but first stopped in McDonalds to get a breakfast sandwich for the ride home. There was no one in line and the customer service person at one of the registers said “Welcome to McDonalds! How can I help you?” I immediately felt uncomfortable and marginalized. How dare this customer service person imply that I was needy or otherwise in need of assistance? Luckily there was another customer service person staffing the next register so I headed away from the micro-micro-aggression towards a new beginning.

  “Welcome to McDonalds! How can I serve you?” said this second clerk. Another amazing micro-micro-aggressive comment implying that I was a member of some privileged class that needed service. I suppressed my burning rage and headed to the third and last register.

  “Welcome to McDonalds! Can I take your order?” said this third customer service representative. Finally! A verbal exchange free of the rampant micro-micro-aggression that was pervasive in this Grimes, Iowa McDonalds. I quickly ordered an Egg McMuffin and a $1 soda and paid when the service representative said “We’ll have your order right away. Please wait.” Of all the micro-micro-aggressive statements! I never felt so marginalized at the presumption that just because I was an older white man with an east coast accent I must be in an impatient hurry. I wasn’t expecting this Egg McMuffin to magically appear out of nowhere at 4 in the afternoon and I had planned on using their wireless internet to check my email which I did while waiting the few minutes for my Egg McMuffin.

  Once I got my Egg McMuffin I went to my car, felling so victimized and marginalized I barely noticed the person that held the door open for me and the four cars that let me get in front of them on my way from the parking lot to the interstate. On the long drive home I listened to a talk radio station that talked about the London terror attacks, Kathy Griffin holding a decapitated head of President Trump, President Trump using the London terror attacks as a pretext to support his travel ban, and the latest series of North Korea missile tests. The radio host was talking about how dumbfounded he was that no matter how much attention the media paid to these issues the American people didn’t seem to care. If only the radio host had spent the day being the victim of micro-aggressions and micro-micro-aggressions like I was I’m sure he wouldn’t have any attention span left to pay attention either!