Monday, November 23, 2015

UU's, Microaggressions and "PC Culture"

Lest any UU get caught up in the hysteria about "PC Culture" and other people's sensitivities about microaggressions, let's review our own experience with these concepts.

Nativity scene in front of Ellwood City Town Hall,
eventually removed after suit by ACLU. 
Say the city leaders put up a Nativity scene in front of the town hall. You protested. Why? Their action told you, the Jews, the atheists, the Muslims and all the other non-Christians, that you were not really part of the town. In today's parlance, you were "erased" from the town's population. They acted as though you did not exist. Or that you did not matter. In today's terms, it was a microaggression. A pretty big one, in fact, since it was in their official civic function.

If you asked the city fathers why; they would have responded that they meant no offense. They were just celebrating Christmas, which almost everybody celebrated. They would ask why you had to be so sensitive. You should get over it and move on.

You go to an interfaith event, and all the Christian preachers pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Again, a microaggression, an erasure of your presence. And when you said something, they said that you were trying to censor their free religious expression.

The dollar bill says "In God We Trust" and Pledge says "One Nation, Under God" as though these were obviously true. That's Christian supremacy on full display, and once you notice it, it's everywhere. And when you do see it in action, you have a choice: to protest it and seem like a cantankerous troublemaker, or somehow swallow your feeling of being excluded or minimized with either a joke or a sullen sigh.

Of course, for Unitarian Universalists, microaggressions like I have described, do NOT carry the threat of danger. After all, we do not live in culture with a broad history of anti-UU violence, so there is little danger in pointing out the microaggression.

We should remember our own experiences with being excluded, erased, or diminished by the culture around us when we read about students protesting the microaggressions they experience on campus. Maybe instead of being angry and impatient, we might applaud their bravery, and think over what issue in particular they are raising. In most cases, the students are broadening the debate, not restricting it, by questioning what has been unquestioned tradition for too long.

1 comment:

Steve LaBonne said...

Great post, thank you.