Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thoughts and Considerations: On Micro-Aggression

Reading about the limitations of feminism with regards to race and class and reading about micro-agression may not be the healthiest literary diet for me. But again and again I find myself drawn to the articles my friends post on Facebook, or that I stumble across in my own internet trolling adventures, usually occurring right after having read an article posted by a friend.

There's something almost therapeutic about seeing someone lay your feelings out in an article when they'd been talking about themselves all along. It's like "Yes! Me too!", and the building blocks of shared experience begin to connect the community of women of color in ways more meaningful than color palettes and a history of shared suffering. Because as many know, not even those have always been enough to unite us.

But now I see more and more a community of strong women who are speaking up for themselves and asserting themselves in ways I had never dreamed possible as a young girl. I see women loving themselves, and it's easier to follow an example than to be the example. (I love you mama! You are and always will be my #1 example.)

Through my own personal journey I have had the privilege of counting many different and diverse people among my sisters. However, this does sometimes pose challenges. Still, I find the Bible to be true when I read "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation (testing) to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted (tested), he will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. Often, that way out in these situations is simply to love.

So when I re-post an article about micro-aggression and I receive well-meaning comments of how I should feel about and react to it:

Comment 1:You mean people being worthless dicks? The world if full of em, let it go and keep moving on, cause that's the only way to get even!

Comment 2:Microaggression is still aggression.  M. is right, keep moving on.  The best revenge is to live well.  Show them how it's done!

I can better understand my reaction to those comments, which was rather strong, all things considered. You see, I am all fine when someone writes how they feel and I can relate to it, but upon reading those comments, my gut reaction was "Don't tell me how to engage with something you can't understand."
I'm not going to take what you say any better because you insult all of those terrible micro-aggressors out there. I'm going to love them, and you, just as Jesus would do, and just as He has given me the strength to do through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

You see, I've been holding this in, sucking it up, and being the bigger person all my life. No need to tell me to get started now. And honestly, sometimes the best help you can offer someone is showing them a mirror and shining some background light. It took me breaking down my sophomore year of college during an intentional missional living program with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, crying the biggest cry I've ever cried before or since, to finally let go of the crap that micro-aggression sticks on a person. I finally had a name for what I was experiencing, and from that knowledge and newfound awareness, and the love and hugs and touches of everyone in the room holding me as I sobbed, God came in and said, "Let it go. Surrender to me. I MADE YOU BEAUTIFUL. In all of your diversity, in all of the multiplicity of your identity, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL."

And the joy that characterizes my personality bubbled up, no longer covered by all the gunk. Sometimes though, God reminds me of this special time we had, always right when I need Him to, and I love Him all the more for it!

Once again, I will mention that I know these comments were well-intentioned. And one commenter in particular I know will remain one of my dearest friends for the rest of this life and through the next. I won't be upset with anyone, because let's be fair here. Racism here in the U.S. (and I would argue other places as well...) works as a system, and not everyone who falls under the bracket of "evil oppressor" is there knowingly or willingly. Not all privilege is a welcome responsibility.

To those who try to use it well (and especially to you, my stalwart defending commenters, my only two), thank you.

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