There is a meme sensation sweeping the internet!! It all started with “Shit Girls Say.” The concept is that someone (often those who are not a member of the group who is being mocked) mocks the things that a group of people stereotypically say. Simple enough . . . and sometimes HILARIOUS.
We’ve got Shit Yogis Say, Shit Girls Say to Gay Guys, Shit Rednecks Say (“Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!”), Shit White Feminists Say, and Shit Guys Don’t Say (or guys not named Jamie Utt). The meme has had the power to do some great mocking and cultural commentary and to point out some important realities. For instance, Shit Everybody Says to Rape Victims and Part II (WARNING, CAN BE TRIGGERING TO SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE) does a fantastic job of highlighting the ways that survivors of sexual violence are often blamed, shamed, and ignored when they seek help after their trauma.
One of the most popular of these videos is Shit White Girls Say . . . To Black Girls:
This particular take on the meme caused the internet (and particularly the Twitterverse) to EXPLODE. Charges of racism were thrown at the video’s creator, comedian and blogger Franchesca Ramsey. In response, people tried to explain how this is not racism but in fact is trying to highlight the type of racism that Black Women must deal with every day coming from White Women.
Well, on the holiday celebrating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Columbia University’s Professor of Psychology, Derald Wing Sue. He went into great detail to explain the concept of microaggressions, described as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative [identity-based] slights and insults toward people of other [identities].” Wing Sue’s extensive research has highlighted the ways in which these commonplace microaggressions can have profound impacts on the target’s self esteem, health, sense of community, feeling of safety, and more.
To better understand microaggressions, check out a site called “Microaggressions: Power, Privilege, and Everyday Life.” There are numerous examples there of microaggressions and how they are hurtful.
What I love about the language of microaggressions, though, is that is can show people of privilege how it doesn’t take overt hate speech to make a person who has systematically been denied privilege feel lesser or unwelcome. For instance, saying to a Latino or Asian person, “You speak very good English” says to that person (who might or might not have lived here their entire lives) that they are an other. They are not normal and this must be pointed out. This is similar to calling a young Black man “articulate” or saying “that’s so gay” as an equivalent to something being bad. It send a tiny message to people who identify with the slighted group that they are an other, they are not normal, they are not valuable or welcome.
If someone has to deal with a lifetime of microaggressions, we can see how that can lead to health problems, poor self esteem, and frustration.
So . . . I was going to write a blog all about how the Shit White Girls Say . . . To Black Girls video is a brilliant commentary on microaggressions, but it’s already been written! And written really well!
Thus, since I have a REALLY busy week, for this week’s post, I encourage you to check out “Not Everyone’s Laughing at ‘Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls’” by Tami Winfrey Harris over at Clutch Magazine. She says it better than I ever could!!
So, folks, as we move forward, let’s try to make sure we are careful with our words so as not to perpetuate common microaggressions.