Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Microaggression and Nuts – Part 2

Previously…I ranted a bit about microaggressions and how everyone seems to be getting on the microaggression bandwagon. I gave the example of asking about a person’s ethnic background as one thing that many people consider to be a microaggression. I also mentioned that nuts had a lot to do with this.

This week I’ll try to tie up all those loose ends.

First let’s go back to the issue of where you’re “from.”

Let’s say that the asker gets the form of the question correct, and asks where are your ancestors from, rather than where you’re from. It turns out that nowadays it’s not polite to ask about a person’s ancestry…or at least not to start out the conversation with it. That’s because that automatically pegs the other person as an “other.” And pegging someone as an “other” is a microaggression.

I don’t quite buy that…nor do millions of other people my age. There was a time when we all talked about what we were and where we were from…I mean where our families originated. This didn’t make anyone into an “other” but just another one of 57 varieties around us. And knowing what variety you were made it more interesting. And finding out that someone else had the same ancestry as you, and that their grandparents did the same strange things, made you feel not quite so strange. Similarly, finding out the "unusual" traditions of some of your friends' families was very cool.

But now we’re told that because some people are offended by this, because some people perceive this as a microaggression, we can’t ask this question at all…at least not in the very beginning.

This is where I think some people are being just a little bit too sensitive…and this is also where the nuts come in.

No, not the crazies (although sometimes some people on the microaggression bandwagon strike me as being a little so); I’m talking about actual botanical nuts.

Like the kind my daughter is allergic to.

Her allergy to certain nuts means that she is sensitive to them. In fact, I might say that she’s overly sensitive to them. And saying that is not a value judgment on her. Her body just goes into overdrive trying to fight off what it thinks is an attacker, and ends up trying to kill her instead.

I think about my daughter’s allergy because many people I’ve run into who have an issue that’s their particular microaggression seem to want to make the world safe from anyone having to deal with that issue…they want to start from a position of assuming that everyone has that issue, even though 99% of the population may not have a problem with it. In fact, I might say that some of these people are macroaggressive about microaggressions. To me, it’s as if I wanted to make the entire world safe for people for whom nuts are kryptonite.

However, I realize that I can’t rid the world of nuts…nor should I try to. My daughter is one of a very small number of people for whom certain nuts are kryptonite, and for the most part it’s our issue to deal with. We won’t prevent anyone else from having all the nuts they want, but it’s her responsibility to keep away from certain foods.

Looking at certain members of the microaggression crowd as being like my nut-sensitive daughter allows me to say that they’re sensitive about, or even overly sensitive about, a certain issue without it coming off as a value judgment. It’s just a statement of fact. My daughter’s body is overly sensitive to nuts and Chris is overly sensitive about gender pronouns.

The difference, however, lies in what they each think the rest of the world should do about their particular sensitivities.

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