February 19, 2023- Jim Morrison once offered the verse, “No one here gets out alive”, in The Doors song, “Five to One”. It became the title of his biography and a caution to anyone who acts as if they are above it all. There is no one, least of all myself, who cannot improve on both inner thoughts and on behaviour towards self and others.

This afternoon, an earnest young woman offered a presentation on “Microaggressions”, small actions stemming from deeply ingrained attitudes-many of which began to take root in childhood. Reflecting back, I recall hearing a racist version of “Eenie, Meenie Miney Mo”-not knowing what the epithet at the end meant, until Mom said she’d wash our mouths out with soap, if we copied our friends’ use of the term again. It wasn’t until Martin Luther King, Jr’s speeches began to be broadcast on the Nightly News that I figured out how deeply offensive the epithet was to African-Americans.

Still and all, behaviours which did not seem to bother other White people DID bother Blacks, and I am grateful that I was called out on them, almost immediately-and told WHY they were offensive. Anything which does not allow for equitable treatment of all people, regardless of their outward features, has no true place in the human fabric. It will take time and patience, both with oneself and with all one meets, to overcome the little affronts, which do add up-and contribute to misunderstandings, and feelings of being aggrieved.

Humour is often used in such faux pas-and the offended person is often asked, “Can’t you take a joke?” The answer, when a relationship has not been firmly established and mutual trust deeply ingrained, is “No”. Humour ought not, ever, be used as a screen, behind which one may toss darts at people who are different. The better option is self-examination, on a daily basis, and increasing one’s understanding of the deeper cultural elements that might lead to someone feeling microaggression directed against him/her.

No one here gets PHYSICALLY out alive, but we can certainly grow our spirits.

2 thoughts on “Microaggressions

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