Saturday, April 11, 2015

Re: Chris Hernandez, "“Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma”'

1)  When you said “fuck your trauma” and “fuck my trauma”:  I agree with your idea that you can’t really expect to have people be that sympathetic and necessarily care about your trauma because people all over the world have gone through harder things.  I respect that you said, “fuck my trauma,” at least you’re willing to dismiss your own problems.

2)  I can kind of agree with one point that you seem to be making:  that the micro-aggressions don’t quite fall at that level of “trauma”, but I’m not sure that anyone was really trying to recognize micro-aggressions as "trauma."

Only one of your examples, the petition by the UCLA student(s), actually links microaggressions to trauma, and the purpose of that piece of writing probably was more purposive rather than a declarative statement taken to represent what they might actually think.  In other words, I think whoever wrote that petition used the word “traumatic” to draw attention to their cause, which I agree probably isn’t an appropriate use of the word. 

What I Don’t Agree With: 
1)  You give only the American soldier and yourself the license to talk about trauma.  It appears the only people you give license to talk any kind of “trauma” is a soldier who is handicapped as a result of combat.  I’m not quite sure that’s quite right either and somewhat myopic.
I have not listened to a lot of war stories, but I can acknowledge that combat can be very traumatic on physical, emotional, and social levels.  So traumatic that I know I would not want to entertain being an American soldier. 

I’ve also listened to traumatic stories from the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s.  Labor camps, harsh punishments, eating snakes to survive, starving, suffering from malnutrition and poor health, being separated from family members, losing family members, seeing bodies either beheaded, battered. people report roughly the same experience.   I mean if you want a scale for trauma, I think that any story from that time and place would dwarf those hardship experiences, but were not comparing are we?

I’d like to think I have a fair perspective of what trauma is without having gone through any on the scale of either a soldier and/or a genocide survivor.

I think deeply about the trauma of those events and always think about how small and simple my problems are as a college-educated Californian born into a middle-class family and try to remain grateful for all the privileges I have. 

2)  I think you don’t fully understand what micro-aggressions are nor why people like to point them out.

I don’t like being an elitist, ivory tower prick that tells people that they don’t know what they are talking about.

But, what would happen if I, for these purposes, an everyday civilian, tried to talk to you, a police officer, about police use-of-force incidents, and what I think police should do and should have done in other incidents? 

Oh, I know that would go over well with you, and you’d be just as receptive of my ideas right? 

You’d probably be offended and tell me that I don’t understand those worlds.  Well same thing here, you really don’t --- understand those academic worlds, so either try to understand and use the language and terms, or just keep listening.

Pointing out microaggressions are usually not "traumatic" nor did the two examples you point out actually state that they were equating microaggressions to "traumas", but I think pointing them out is a type of evidence-gathering.  

Noting microaggressions is evidence-gathering of racist, sexist, sizist, agist, ableist behaviors.  All behaviors that communicate to a minority group that they are somehow lesser, inferior.  Making note of them, and showing them serves as concrete replies to the claims that tend to dismiss what people experience, i.e. (we live in a color-blind, post-racial society).

I think some evidence is stronger than others, and you cherry-picked some of the examples that don’t seem as strong.

3)  You seem to assume that people nowadays are fragile and are falling apart just because they point out instances of discrimination when you say "Generations of Americans have experienced real trauma."  "Don't move on with your life, just continue to be trapped by those obstacles that racism, sexism, sizism, agism, ableism, etc. etc.," said no one ever. 

You seem to conflate the fact that people point these things out with people somehow being weak and being flummoxed by everyday life.

I guess it is so weak and a symbol of our pansy-ass times when civilians try to go to police and seek out evidence every time someone steals from, robs, cheats, attacks them. 

Geeze, just move on people, if you're really strong you won't let such little things like that deter you.  It isn't real "trauma" after all.

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