Forgive Us Our Microaggressions

I have a question, but please don’t take it in the wrong way. I don’t mean to offend anyone. I’m just curious.

How is a microaggression different from nothing at all?

“Microaggression” is one of those new words made up by people with an axe to grind. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as:

“a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.”


Sometimes very subtly. Sometimes, so subtly that you can only perceive it if you’re looking for reasons to take offense.

Erin Aubry Kaplan wrote in The New York Times that she took her sick dog to the veterinarian’s office. She felt that the receptionist was rude to her because she was black:

“As I completed the forms, the receptionist — a young white woman — turned to me and said, pointing a finger, ‘Go sit down.’ Her voice was flat, with none of the cheer or empathy she’d just shown a white pet owner.”

Really? That’s what she’s got? And that’s a racist microaggression?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been treated rudely by all kinds of people.

Maybe it’s because I’m so darned good-looking. Or too tall. Or too short.

Or maybe it’s just that people are rude sometimes.

Of course, I’m not a member of a “marginalized group.” You know what that is. It’s any group except the box you don’t want to check on a job application.

If you’re looking for reasons to be offended, you can always find them. A few will be real, but most will be imaginary.

Taking offense at imaginary insults will make you unhappy. Other people will avoid you, and that will make you unhappier.

If that’s your choice, well, okay. I won’t take offense.

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
This entry was posted in Human Relations, Life, Psychology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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