Daily Hampshire Gazette – Daniel Miller: Angry at the spread of ‘microaggressions’


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I'm grateful that the Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate program is taking root at Jabish Middle School in Belchertown. I feel a personal connection to the place, having worked there as a substitute teacher for six years. On May 16, the Gazette reported that guidance counselor Jennifer Parker said she noticed eighth-graders “confronting a group of seventh-graders about an offensive joke they made, calling it a microaggression.” I cringe when confronted with microaggressions, a term for relatively small actions or statements that are perceived as offensive by, as the Gazette puts it, “marginalized groups.”

A locally famous incident occurred in the spring of 2023, when Easthampton Public Schools offered Vito Perrone their position as superintendent of schools and then withdrew the offer after Perrone committed the microaggression of addressing two school officials as “ladies” in an email. It was a thoughtless and thin-skinned response.

We do a lot of finger-pointing these days, and I fear there's more on the horizon. I fear that microaggression will change its nature like a virus, moving from comments and actions related to social issues to personal offenses at a petty level. Their use could shut down countless conversations. Expressions of hurt feelings followed by apologies—healthy and necessary interactions—would become a thing of the past. People who forget to say please or thank you would not only be seen as rude, but branded as microaggressors. And that, if the victims had their way, would end the conversation.

Daniel Miller