A recent article in both Salon and Alternet discussed the concept of “microaggression.” This is the assertion that small, subtle forms of racism permeate American society and target minorities every day. Originating out of Critcical Race Theory, it says that unconscious actions have a cumulative negative effect on blacks and although laws and attitudes have changed over the years, these small actions permeate throughout society and interactions with blacks. It is an never-ending cycle of victimization.
To illustrate how this allegedly works, it is best to use the examples from these sources. Example 1: Blacks are fired from jobs because they fail to conform to white norms of behavior on the job. The articles cite two extreme examples which is a classic tactic of the left- use extreme examples and portray that as the norm. I am really not sure of the jobs these two people had since it is not specified. Workplace rules and dress codes exist for a reason. They are not intended to turn a minority into a Caucasian as the article implies. Regardless, I can almost bet that if black business owners were asked, they likely have adopted these very “Caucasian” rules also. Why? Because they work. And this writer is curious as to what a minority workplace norm would look like.
Example 2: The cops are killing them. Again, this is an extreme statement designed to elicit an extreme response. Last year brought this issue into focus. Of course we now know that the entire problem in Ferguson was predicated upon a lie. Despite the untruthfulness of Ferguson, they assert this is still a problem. If one looks at the number of people killed by police against the number of times the police interact with people, the chances of being killed by the police are extremely small. That is why they trot out the “four times more likely” statements. Four is “four times more likely” than one, but four is still a very small number.
Example 3: They black unemployment rate. Of course if they get a job, they can’t keep it because of white work norms. You just cannot win here which is the basic gist of microaggression. However, it is true that the black unemployment rate is about double that of whites and has been this way since about 1954. We can draw an historical line back to where the problem got worse and that is the period from 1965-1975 which roughly translates into a break up of the traditional family and a decline in education. Also, after race riots tore up black communities, many businesses relocated and took the jobs with them. Hence, perhaps a look in the mirror rather than blaming things on microagression is the better tactic.
Example 4: Expulsion rates of black students. Schools do not like to expel students and expulsion is usually reserved for the most egregious transgressions. This goes back to #3 above- a failure to take responsibility for one’s actions. This is something learned at home and in single-parent households, it is less likely to be learned. Having worked in a somewhat “urban” school district, I can safely say that the more “urban” the student- despite their color- the more disrespectful they are and the more negative is their attitude.
Example 5: New York Police Department harassment. But why stop with New York? This goes back to accusations of profiling. Fortunately, profiling often works. While the black community decried New York’s stop-and-frisk policy as “harassment,” they ignore the fact that crime rates dropped.
Example 6: Workplace bullying. For blacks or any other minority to assert that they have a monopoly on being the victims of workplace bullying is ludicrous. Again, when examples are given, they are the most extreme being trotted out as if they are the norm.
Example 7: Police traffic stops. I would give them this one with a caveat. A few years back, the New Jersey State Police got themselves into some racial profiling hot water by stopping cars driven by minorities with Florida license plates while travelling through the state on the New Jersey Turnpike on their way to New York. As a result of these profiled stops, several arrests were made for transporting drugs from Florida to New York. Sometimes profiling works.
Example 8: Minority shoppers accused of shoplifting. Again, this goes to the subject of profiling. I do not know the statistics on shoplifting, but I suspect they are about 50/50 when it comes to minorities and whites. Of course, if the store has a large minority customer base and shoplifting is a problem at the store, then it stands to reason that a minority is the shoplifter. This is simple probability theory, not microaggression.
Example 9: Denial of access to health care. This is just plain ridiculous. Under Critical Race Theory, the fact that blacks have higher rates of diseases that have bad effects on one’s health is a conspiracy by the white-dominated society. This is the extreme stretches of the theory. However, blacks have as much if not greater access to health care through SCHIP, Medicaid or even charity care. Of course, microaggression and Critical Race Theory fails to explain the high rates of uninsured among poor whites. In effect, this “denial of access to health care” is not a minority-specific phenomena, but one of income. There are poor blacks and there are poor whites.
Example 10: White claims that these these things are exaggerated. This is my favorite because it is the catch-all. Even if you can conclusively disprove examples 1 through 9, you still lose. It is like doing a 1,000 piece puzzle only to find out that you are missing two pieces at the end and the purveyors of Critical Race Theory knew you were missing those two pieces all along. That is, even if you win, you lose.
Microaggression- like Critical Race Theory in general- is simply a ploy used to perpetuate a culture of victimhood. It even asserts that if all these things were magically and totally eradicated tomorrow, racism would still exist. What they neglect to mention is that sometimes racism is a two-way street. And the race-baiting hucksters who profit off this nonsense and who embed themselves in academia are the worst offenders. If racism were eradicated tomorrow, there would be no need for these people which is why they create these elaborate theories. Because even if race relations were perfect, you- the majority- would still be wrong. It can be summarized thus: projecting one’s lack of personal responsibility onto society.