I stepped out of the lanai*. Within moments I felt a mosquito bite me, then another, and then another. Within moments I was surrounded. I went from irritation to fear and intense pain. A single mosquito filling it’s tiny body with my blood is one little thing. The experience of the swarm was too much, and I would learn later, dangerous.
Not too long after this event in SW Florida I attended a symposium on privilege in Chicago. The topic of the day was microaggressions. The analogy used to explain microaggressions? A swarm of mosquitoes. Since the election of president elect Joe Biden and the invasion of the United States Capitol I have seen self proclaimed allies behave badly. Many of these allies rip holes open in the lanai of safe space. As opposed to dealing with the mosquitoes swarming in, they shame the victim covered in bites for being unruly.
*Lanai is a Hawaiian term meaning patio. For some reason Floridians insist this is the proper term for a screened in patio area.
What is a Microaggression?
According to Psychologist Derald W. Sue, who wrote two books on the matter:
In a paper Sue submitted to the American Psychological Association in 2007, Sue broke down microaggressions to 3 categories:
Microassault: an explicit racial derogation; verbal/nonverbal; e.g. name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.
Microinsult: communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity; subtle snubs; unknown to the perpetrator; hidden insulting message to the recipient.
Microinvalidation: communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.
The words after Micro are strong. Aggression, assault, insult, invalidation. To the casual observer of a single moment ,or to the person committing a singular microaggression it is a simple matter to dismiss the minor irritant as a misunderstanding, or a harmless joke. They often victim shame at this point and claim that this is not a big deal and that the victim is making a mountain out of a mole-hole. This often leads to the victim as being seen as the unreasonable person. With this victim shaming happening almost as often as the mosquito swarm, the victim beings to be conditioned to believe they are the problem. The blame themselves and believe themselves to be overly sensitive. This can lead to lower self esteem, depression, isolation, and social anxiety. It also makes subtle aggression, assault, insult and invalidation socially acceptable.
How are Older Liberals Hurting Others?
They are engaging in a trend of healing and reconciliation with reasonable discussions in the worst possible manner. I was born during Vietnam and the Nixon administration. I am an aging Gen Xer, but I am racking my brain to remember a time when we all gathered at a table as “gentlemen” and civilly discussed our minor differences with every gender, race, orientation, and ability represented. But they seem to long for this time that never existed and wish to bring it back on their public social media feeds.
These are people who claim to be allies and even have transgender (or other marginalized at risk groups) children, grandchildren, or niblings. They are most often white and somewhere in the age range of older millennial, Xer or Boomer. Their claim of allyship and love has brought people in the margins into their lives and promised them a lanai from the horrors of oppressors.
But at the moment they initiate a thread of discussion for this imaginary middle ground, they rip a hole into the lanai and allow the mosquitoes to swarm in. They come to the table with their micro aggression, assaults, insults and invalidation. To the untrained self proclaimed ally, this behavior passes under their radar. But to the victim, they know what they feel with every bite. They experience the same swarm they experience at school, at work, at church, in the news and everywhere else they go. Sometimes they dare to call it out, trusting the initiator to put an end to this. Instead, they accuse the victim of being inhospitable and unfriendly. They bear the brunt of not only victimization, but shame and gas lighting for their perception.
The Lie of the Lion and the Lamb
This idea of the lion and the lamb laying together peacefully is something that exists mainly in sh***y Christian art. If everyone in the Patheos NonReligious channel is wrong and that happens in the great by and by, that is fine. But here and now, that is not reality. The lion is a predator. It will devour the lamb when it is hungry. These people who prey on the at risk lives are predators. To invite them to the table of the vulnerable is to turn a room into a coliseum for blood-sport and yelling at the lamb for defending itself.
The Effect on Families Like Mine
In the past it was simply enough for me and my child to block those that hate my child for being trans. Now we have hit a point where we have to block those who profess to be our friends.
I hope my black readers will allow me to remind our readers that MLK once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I feel that the hurt from friends not standing by and supporting you is forever remembered. It is bad enough when your friends are silent when you need their help and support, it is even worse when those friends silence you after letting the swarm in.
Like What I Wrote? Please Support Me.
I have lost many Patreons in 2020. It is hard to allot time to write more. Please help so I can write more content like this. I would have written sooner this year, but I had emergency surgery between Christmas and New Years. This led to time out of work without pay and extended recovery.