For a recent class project for Advanced Mediation, I had a chance to role-play a Hispanic woman. Writing the reflection paper afterwards (yes you will do a lot of those here) and compiling the readings and my thoughts I stepped outside my Self….
No I didn’t go anywhere, but had a chance to look at the racial issue from the outside. There I was, a white male, trying to play the part of a Hispanic female; did I do that effectively? Not a chance.
Did it open my eyes? You bet.
With all the readings and exploration of cultural issues, I got it. I finally got a peek into a world where WHAT you are creates a different landscape of existence. And if you’re a minority that points to a very different reality and existence than mine.
So what might I be doing, that I might not be aware of, that contributes to the existence of these different realities? these different life-landscapes?
Microaggressions. Small interactions between people of differing races, genders or cultures that can be seen as aggressive. And many may be unconsciously performed or reacted to.
Dr. Derald Wing Sue here at Teacher’s College says that “racial microaggression” can be an “…everyday insult, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them” (See the full article here). He also gives several examples in this interview. For others check out this post.
Critics of Wing’s idea say his theory inhibits interactions between the races rather than a more candid approach (see here). And there are those who expand on the idea, suggesting microaggressions happen within other groups as well (like here). Or happen all the time.
Is it a big deal?
This group says it is, and is addressing that question.
As for me, I feel I’ve peeked through a window into something vast, sobering and potentially ugly. Yet my faith in human nature refuses to believe that we all live in a world full of unconscious put-downs, insults, jabs and conflict.
Then again, perhaps we do.
Either way I’m going to meditate, practice my self-awareness and self-reflection; at least I can change myself.
What do you think?