“I don’t understand why you’re so upset.”
These are the absolute worst words to hear from someone you confess your feelings to under any circumstance, but it’s even worse to hear it from someone pretending to be an ally. Can you imagine someone saying this to a hit and run victim? Or someone stabbed in a random act of violence?
And yet, this is the response people from marginalized backgrounds get whenever they bring up microaggressions in everyday life. It is the pinnacle of aversive racism and a lack of empathy couched as a scholarly search for understanding.
This has been the response of too many people within my MFA community. And honestly? I’m sick to fucking death of it.
If you don’t understand why taking facts out of context to make the point that minorities need to just calm down is a problem...
If you can’t put your personal feelings of warmth for a person aside to see their destructive behaviors...
If you don’t understand that invalidating the experiences of large groups of people is not “starting a conversation”, but rather ending it...
You are the problem.
I shouldn’t have to justify my feelings with charts and graphs. My lived experiences shouldn’t be an academic exercise for you. And my emotions shouldn’t be subject to cursory dismissal, especially when you make so much of yours.
This is what it’s like to be from a marginalized group. It’s exhausting, it’s enraging, and if you find yourself questioning and making excuses you need to realize your ignorance and subsequent feelings of shame have nothing to do with me or my tone.
This is all on you. So go fix it.