social differences/systematic consequences

I’ve just spent the last two hours transfixed by this website.  Definitely worth perusing!

A few personal asides:

I must say that I’m sure my (white) dad would have gotten on the bus and had some words with folks if that thing had happened to me (you’ll read it)…

biracial people can be as insensitive as everybody else and aren’t always the “victims” of ignorant words…

the “you’re gay be with that gay guy” one reminds me of the times someone has wanted to fix me up with someone they’re sure I’m perfect for and it turns out it’s just the other “black” person they know….

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

this project is a response to “it’s not a big deal” – “it” is a big deal.  ”it” is in the everyday.  ”it” is shoved in your face when you are least expecting it.  ”it” happens when you expect it the most.  ”it” is a reminder of your difference.  ”it” enforces difference.  ”it” can be painful.  ”it” can be laughed off.  ”it” can slide unnoticed by either the speaker, listener or both.  ”it” can silence people.  ”it” reminds us of the ways in which we and people like us continue to be excluded and oppressed.  ”it” matters because these relate to a bigger “it”: a society where social difference has systematic consequences for the “others.”

but “it” can create or force moments of dialogue.

~~~~~~~~~

This blog seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of “microaggressions.” Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves.  Often, they are never meant to hurt – acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects.  Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult.  Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

The term “microaggressions” was originally coined to speak particularly to racialized experiences.

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”  – “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life”

This blog, however, is a space to extend this concept to different socially constructed identities that embody privilege in different ways – sexuality, class, religion, education level, to name a few – in hopes of making visible the ways in which social difference is produced and policed in everyday lives through comments of people around you.

  • Me, a light-skinned biracial girl at a party last weekend:: Okay, a Jack means categories.
  • White guy:: How about minorities you would sleep with?
  • Me:: As a minority, I find that offensive, like sleeping with us is a sacrifice.
  • He looks at me like he hadn’t realized he was in “mixed” company and back-pedals (“I didn’t mean it THAT way”); kisses my ass for the rest of the night, but never apologizes. Made me feel frustrated and invisible.
  • Teacher :: Black men are naturally more aggressive and strong than white men.
  • Me:: No, it has to depend on the man, surely.
  • Teacher :: Not really, no white man could…
  • Me:: Your husband is 6ft tall well built and my dad is 5’7ft and very lean, your husband could wipe the floor with him.
  • Teacher :: There are odd exceptions but, in general.
  • I was 15, Secondary School, England 2001. Made me feel gobsmacked, worried that I would be graded unfairly.
  • I was at the mall earlier today with a group of friends. Another guy from school joins us.
  • New guy:: So, what are you?
  • Me:: My ethnic background?
  • Him:: Yeah
  • Me:: Well, I’m French, Spanish, Irish, Italian, Black American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, American Indian–
  • Him:: No you’re not
  • Me:: Pardon?
  • Him:: You can’t be American Indian. They’re all extinct.
  • I am a 17 year old girl, at a shopping mall. Made me feel frustrated, invisible, patronized.

    They probably just had a crush on you.”

    -What my white father said when I told him two white students called me the n-word on the bus.

    “I would never, ever hire someone with a “black” name on their resume. I wouldn’t even interview them.

    -An African American co-worker at a team dinner.

    • Girl at country themed bar:: Hey, you’re black…
    • Me, a 23-year old male::
    • Girl:: I’m not racist or anything…but WTF are you doing here? There are Confederate rebel flags and sh*t here.
    • Me:: ….
    • Girl:: Oh, I know. You’re here for the white girls.
    • Me:: -_-
    • Girl:: Buy me a drink.
    • Made me a bit uncomfortable.
    • Customer:: If more black people were like you the world would be a better place.
    • Black me:: Have a nice day.
    • What I wanted to say:: If fewer people were as ignorant as you, people who look like me would have better lives. I was 18. (He was in his 40s or 50s.) when: spring 1998, working at Barnes & Noble in Louisiana. 

    You know, it’s so amazing. I was just looking at your hands and feet- they’re so dark on the top, but then at the palms they look just like ours! Hahaha.”

    -My gymnastics coach in front of my suburban, entirely-white team, in which I am the only black person.

    • Workfriend:: Hey that new guy at work is gay; you should totally be with him.
    • Me:: No I don’t find him attractive.
    • Workfriend:: But… he’s gay! You’re gay, he’s gay, what’s stopping you??
    • Me:: Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean-
    • Workfriend:: Ummmmm, he’s gay. He likes having sex with guys like you. You’re just afraid. Duhhh.

    I was 21, at work. Made me feel annoyed, hurt and trivialized. Gay people don’t have sex with anyone just because they are both gay.

     

     

    He was pretty dark, so he’s probably not paying rent because he’s an illegal and doesn’t know English.”

    -My (white) stepfather regarding one of his renters. Made me ashamed because I’m Hispanic, too.

    I’m a black woman. My black female friend once told me that a white guy once said to her, “You’re really pretty for a black girl.” And her response was, “I know.”

    Made me realize her and my own unrecognized self hate. Made me feel sad and guilty.

    You could pass for Dominican; some of them are really dark and have bad hair like you. Luckily, I got the GOOD hair”.”

    -Said to me by the black Dominican-American boyfriend of my biracial (black/white) friend visiting us during Spring Break. I am a 20 year old black American woman with naturally kinky-curly hair. Made me feel shocked, ugly, unimportant.

    This 1895 charicature is an unkind parody of a woman seeking to smooth out her hair. The comic strip suggests that her hair stood out on end because of a hair-raising novel.
    • My black/white biracial friend looks at the Facebook profile of a black man she’s crushing on.
    • Her:: Ugh, his [mono-racial and black] girlfriend is so ugly. They’d have kids with huge nasty noses. He needs to get with me and my good mixed nose. *giggles*

    I am a black 20 year old American woman. We were studying together at another friend’s apartment. Made me feel insulted, ugly, disfigured, and defective.

    You know why Vermont is so safe, don’t you? There’s hardly any minorities in it!”

    I was in NY yesterday, meeting my future in-laws for the first time when my fiance’s father said this. He is a white man in his 70s. I am a 22 year old biracial black cis woman …who lives in Vermont. It made me feel furious, invisible, helpless, rejected.

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    4 thoughts on “social differences/systematic consequences

    1. The friends “hooking up to save you” thing…in general, is so annoying. For me, even if we were meant to be, it really sucks for that other person because now I am completely turned off! Doesn’t even matter what you look like or personality, etc. I become officially irritated. Furthermore, I don’t know if there will ever be a day when people realize that gay people are like straight people. Also, I wonder if you came across any blacks being the perpetrator. I know for a fact that people of color are not the only ones who fall victim. We all have to work together on this…These are really good!! And yes! That teacher knew exactly what she was doing. Trained and in the field for while? Girl. Bye!! Literally, in this case 🙂

    2. Remarkable. I talk a lot about situations like this with friends (minorities, mixed, and otherwise). I’ve never heard it given a title before, but the cumulative effect is so damaging.

      One microagression moment that always come to mind for me: My first semester of college. A girl on my hall (who has since become a good friend) said to me, “I don’t think of you as Black.” In the context of the conversation, she meant it as a compliment. But it felt like a slap in the face. All I could think was, What do you think it means to be Black? Are you suggesting that Being Black is a bad thing?

    3. I’ve experienced a lot of this and I’m biracial. The ignorance never seems to end…:(

    4. I have been insulted for: too skinny, small chest, braces, nose too big for my small face, teeth discoloration (due to medications when a baby), not being ” tough enough” aka “too sensitive”, lack of athletic prowess, which all definitely affected my self confidence. Having a gorgeous older sister with exceptional athletic abilities didn’t help. I was invisable next to my sister who was showered with compliments over her beauty. My parents proud of their flower and embarrassed by their weed. But as a reaction to this reality, I became self-reliant and determined. I came to understand that if people looked down on me for reasons I could not control, then they have just shown me their shallowness and furthermore I have nothing to prove to anybody but myself. I worked on developing my gift of artistic ability and turned my hurts to lessons of compassion for others who are”quickly” dismissed for shallow reasons. Let’s discover the unique qualities in each other. We are all dismissed at some time in our lives in favor of others. Does it matter what race I am? Or what part of whatever I am or how much? Let’s be judged all by the content of our character as Dr. King suggested.

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