We live in a world now where feelings should not be hurt and activists should never feel challenged. It’s a philosophy playing itself out locally at the University of Washington campus and it’s got everything to do with the contrivance of microaggressions.
According to Psychology Today:
Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
Borrowing from the concepts of social justice of white people being what’s wrong with everything, this definition means only white, heterosexual men can victimize others with microaggressions.
So what are examples of microaggressions? A student was introduced as Jamie Rodriguez, but is actually named Jaime Garcia. It wasn’t an accident, it was a racist microaggression because apparently the speaker thinks everyone who looks Latino is named “Rodriguez”. Another: of someone born and raised in Mexico, a student is asked if she speaks Spanish. That’s a microaggression because you shouldn’t assume she speaks Spanish. What if she does? It doesn’t matter, assuming is evil and hurtful. Another: a girl comes home from college and her grandmother asks if she’s “met any nice boys lately.” That’s a microaggression because it assumes she’s heterosexual. She might actually be, but it doesn’t matter because it’s an assumption.
The concept of microaggressions are a social justice contrivance you learn in college as a means to make excuses for your failures. “I got an F in my geography class because… microaggressions!” It also pushes this idea that you’re a perpetual victim (it’s a theme we heard at the May Day protests where activists blamed their woes on racism, sexism, classism, white privilege, white power, ableism and “everything else” – though not anything they did themselves).
But how’s this relate to the UW? The UAW Local 4121 has been working on behalf of student workers at UW to develop a new contract. Part of the negotiations, remarkably, address microaggressions.
These students, as relayed in a press release, complained that “[w]omen, people of color, LGBTQ, undocumented immigrants, international students, and others experience subtle, everyday words and actions that degrade and exclude them based on who they are. These micro-aggressions create barriers to academic and professional achievement every day they work as Academic Student Employees.”
“When I was at UW, I went through a hellish academic term because of this kind of treatment, which created real personal and professional consequences,” said Rebecca Cweibel, a Music History graduate student who has since left UW, in the press release. “It would make a huge difference for UW to establish clear protections in the contract, and start to change the culture so micro-aggressions are not tolerated.”
We learned that UW and these students are close to an agreement, and the AP reports it will include “the beginning of discussions about social justice issues.”
Someone assumes you speak a different language that you don’t? That’s a “microaggression” that may force you to drop out of school? Really? Then maybe you’re not college material. It forces you to quit a job? Then the job wasn’t right for you. How about you grow up and accept that every smallest slight isn’t the end of the world? We live in a society where you lack the right not to feel offended or challenges, which I’m grateful for because everything seems to offend certain activists.
We’re training people to be so hypersensitive that they actively look for things to complain about. And at the heart of fighting microaggression is a concept Progressive activists just love: banning speech and ideas they don’t like. The only way to stop what they define as microaggression is to punish you for speech and thoughts. That’s chilling and dangerous.