I’ve recently noticed, in the UK especially, that there seems to have been an increase in reports of Black people experiencing racially aggravated abuse whilst minding their own business and undertaking the more mundane tasks in life. A while ago I came across a news outtake in which UK singer Jamelia recounted her experience of such abuse whilst travelling on a train with her young daughter.
Jamelia reported that after taking her seat in the first class section of the train a caucasian somebody had the cheek to ask her whether she had a first class ticket – pointing out that the first class section was only for first class passengers! The caucasian somebody, who was not an employee of that (or any other) train company, went on to articulate the terms and conditions of travelling with said train company – noting that if she did not have a first class ticket she would be removed from the section.
Jamelia later observed that the abuser in question didn’t feel the need to verify the tickets of any of the caucasian train passengers on that journey, despite having the opportunity to do so.
Having been the subject of what is quite clearly racially aggravated verbal abuse, Jamelia felt the need to label the encounter and others of a similar theme “micro-aggressions” – for the absence of doubt – I despise this term. And here’s why…
There is nothing micro about aggression and/or abuse steeped in the supremacist belief that the colour of someone’s skin determines their worth in life.
There is nothing micro about aggression and/or abuse that is underpinned by political and societal institutions designed to exploit and oppress our people.
There is nothing micro about aggression and/or abuse that is undertaken in the context of an open rhetoric that blames political and economic failures on immigration at every opportunity.
In summary every so called “micro-aggression” that we experience is standing on the shoulders of the macro aggressions experienced by our people and our ancestors before them. Such travesties as slavery, mass genocide, institutional racism, systematic oppression, mineral extraction and so on and so forth. Additionally – why is it only seen as micro when it is directed towards Black people. Is there such a concept of a micro-rape, micro-murder, micro-paedophilia…? Such notions are ridiculous and so is the concept of micro-aggression. Let’s name it what it is – disgusting, racial abuse.
Does the use of terms like “micro” and “subtle” absolve the perpetrators of responsibility for their bigotry?
Do we tend to ignore some of the less severe instances of racist behaviour and bigotry? Have we become de-sensitized to “everyday” racism?
What are the ways that we as a people can stand up against instances of racism and bigotry in our day to day lives?
Have you experienced instances of “micro-aggression” and if so, how did you respond?