One thing that comes up a lot at the Castle is the intelligence of our readers. If there were a quantifiable way to assess the intelligence of someone, some sort of quotient perhaps, you would probably find that the combined intelligence of all twelve or Salon.com’s readers likely approaches the intelligence of any one of our readers.
Another case in point. Who else writes letters like we get? Long-time operative SC writes in over the weekend barely able to contain her laughter over an article in the APA Monitor (DeAngelis, T. Unmasking ‘racial micro aggressions.’ Monitor, 40(2)). The article decides that non-racist people like you, SC, and the Czar are in fact inherently racist people. How so?
Because we make little decisions, actions, and gestures that all reveal what cruel, racist bastards we are. For example, we make microassaults, such as—and we quote directly here—“Conscious and intentional actions or slurs, such as using racial epithets, displaying swastikas or deliberately serving a white person before a person of color in a restaurant.” This is micro? The Czar needs to check, but it has been a while since he displayed a swastika or served anyone in a restaurant. Actually, never.
We also are all guilty—because the author says so—of microinsults (which again are pretty blatant insults directed at others of a different race) and microvalidations, such as—ahem—asking foreigners in what country they were born, thereby suggesting they do not come from here and certainly do not belong.
Okay, this is your usual pop-psychology bullcrap intended to make each of us feel stupid about ourselves. Actually, the Czar might argue that proponents of this theory (explored in detail in the article) are themselves the obvious bigots by assuming we all do this stuff. Like the guy the guy in the swimming pool who laughs and says we all pee in the pool, right? And then finds everyone quickly inching away from him? But who cares what the Czar thinks: let SC handle this heavy workload.
SC speculates that there is, of course, a shade of truth in all this. But only to a tiny amount: she writes that since most people want to be seen as open-minded and non-discriminatory, they eagerly say well-intentioned things that come out awkward or even goofy. Complimenting an Asian’s command of English may strike some as offensive, but it was really done to be encouraging. SC adds that most white people are very sensitive about offending others of color: but this is the result of pressure from accepting the blame of non-whites for racism than it is actually caused by being closet racists ourselves. In other words, we say stuff because we know we can look like jerks sometimes…not because we are, in fact, jerks.
SC also asks why the article focuses on white people doing things bad? Why are victims always people of color? Why are the perpetrators always white? Is it not possible, SC asks, “that I, as a white person, might not be micro-victimized by a person of color who assumes that I am uncomfortable in his/her presence, threatened by his/her appearance, or resentful of his/her acquisition of equal rights? Of course it is.” Hah! Back in college, the Czar realized that people who reject the concept of reverse racism are themselves, in fact, closet racists. Since then, he has studied and watched subsequent comments by people who deny racism against whites, and found the perpetrators continue to demonstrate all manners of racist, bigoted, and prejudicial comments about whites. Take Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton as good examples of people who reject reverse racism, and then feel they have a blank check to make bone-headed statements about whites that reveal truer feelings.
SC also adds that micoinvalidation and microinsults cover such a broad sweep of situations (including harmless ones like critiquing performance or snarkiness) that they inherently spread over all people of all races. Basically, as the Czar understands the article and her point, these things are only bad when white people do them.
SC again: “The core issue that comes to my mind is, Where does this end? If I can perpetrate microaggression without even realizing or intending to do so, does my very existence constitute nanoaggression? Picoaggression? Further, once we have accepted the concept of racial microaggression as prevalent and problematic, society will never again be able to discern which outcomes are valid and which are racist. Chicago PD lacking enough minority officers? Must be microaggression. Disagree with Mrs. Obama regarding whether her husband ‘can get shot going to the gas station’ because he is a black man? You are micro-invalidating her reality.”
SC knows what the Czar’s response has to be: those who play the race game always leave a way to take it to the next level. And they have to: because once you start pointing out the illogic inherent in the big picture, you have to take it down a step and make it about the person. This article is a warning that folks are now able to take it down to the next level and attack your unconscious behaviors. Okay, so by and large, white people are not racist? Well, maybe not as a group…but you are. You say you are not? Okay, so some of your behavior is. And yeah, although the Czar thinks nano-aggression will be next, maybe not your behavior so much as facets of your behavior.
Racism is a hydra that cannot be killed, because a lot of people need it kept alive solely to screw the system. The Czar will conclude with this thought: racism is not subtle. It is never covert, arcane, or subliminal. Racism, folks, is always blatant, ugly, and nasty. You never have to hunt for it or discover it buried deep beneath several layers—if a guy is a racist, or harbors racist thoughts, it never takes very much to get them to come out front and center. Racism is a macro disorder.