The word “microaggression” has cropped up with increased frequency over the last year, to the point that now I see it almost daily. But what does it mean?
Webster’s says it has no meaning — that it’s not a word. Various blogs, papers, and online source provide a definition, but there seems to be no “official” definition.
I did stumble upon a site named microaggressions.com, which, judging from the content, was built by people who can’t stand anyone who might have some kind of “privilege” going for them. (“Privilege” is another word of the day, but I digress.)
According to microaggressions.com:
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.
Notice this definition is limited to racial microaggressions, but I assume based on other complaints I’ve seen that any group can be the target of a microaggression, provided it is a protected class, viz., “diverse.” (“Diverse” is another word of the day, etc.)
For example, recently at Brandeis University, the Asian American Students Association was accused of microaggression for putting up a display that itself was viewed, by non-Asian students, as a microaggression on them.
Transitioning from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous, last week students at Arizona State University petitioned staff to change the term “Walk-Only Zones” because the wording was a microaggression to someone in a wheelchair or on crutches. Even the people who were supposed to be offended (those in wheelchairs or on crutches) thought this was dumb.
Since most microaggression occur on college campuses, what about curriculum that’s offensive to certain religious groups (and by “certain religious groups” I mean religions other than Islam, which is a protected religion)? Are messages that offend Christians or Jews a form of microaggression? Probably not. Those are not protected religions.
Based on my research, I’ve come up with my own definition of microaggression:
A made-up word used to try to intimidate those who care about political correctness. It is aimed at non-issues that ultimately hurt no one other than a few hypersensitive “humans” (that’s still an OK term, I hope) to create a distraction from the real issues.
Our kids are graduating with record high debt, few prospects for jobs, and with poor educations. Pointing that out is probably a microaggression against someone. But isn’t everything?