In the first part of this series, we discussed how racism originally came from the institution of American slavery. However, slavery-spawned racism is no longer the primary contributor to the racial tension we see today. The social justice left is now one of the main factors in fomenting racism in the United States. We also discussed how the left’s obsession with privilege increased hostility between minorities and whites – though that’s not the end of the story. There is another way the social justice movement has created a new racism: victimhood culture.
Groups that espouse the values of the social justice movement propagate a message of victimhood to minorities. Instead of treating minorities as individuals responsible for their own failure or success, they convince them that they are victims who cannot get ahead because of white supremacy. Although the social justice left believes they are helping these people, they are doing them a great disservice.
Through their fixation on racism, the social justice left has created an entire culture of victimhood that has turned many minorities into morally dependent people who are unable to deal with conflict. How? By pushing the notions of intersectionality and “microaggressions.”
The feminist theory of intersectionality causes people to focus on the idea that those who have privilege are always oppressing them. Intersectionality is a sociological theory that is designed to address how an individual can have multiple characteristics that could invite discrimination.
The factors that could increase the level of discrimination include age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and even physical appearance. For example, a black woman might have to face more challenges than a black man because she must deal with both sexism and racism while the man may only have to deal with racism. While this was initially a feminist theory, it has also been applied to men as well. The theory of intersectionality may have a modicum of validity, but the way the social justice left uses it has gone far beyond the scope of reason. This is where microaggressions come in. According to Dictionary.com, a microaggression is:
A subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype: microaggressions such as “I don’t see you as black.”
As you can guess, the majority of microaggressions are not committed with the intent of insulting the other party. In most cases, the person making the comment has no idea that they are saying anything offensive. However, the social justice left has taken this term and used it to cultivate a sense of victimhood in minorities. When someone experiences a microaggression, they are taught to call out the person who committed it. In their paper entitled “Microaggressions and Moral Cultures,” professors Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning state that victimhood culture is:
Characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.
Instead of having a rational conversation with the person who may have ignorantly committed the microaggression, social justice dictates that minorities call out the misstep publicly. This tendency is part and parcel of what is called “call out culture.” Calling out someone for their perceived microaggressions frequently happens in public, but it also occurs on social media. The problem is that reacting in such a way leaves no room for dialogue – just compliance with the left.
By fixating on microaggressions and oppression, the social justice movement has persuaded minorities to focus on their status as victims rather than on their individual worth. In fact, the left inadvertently teaches them that their validation is connected to their level of victimhood. This message creates in minorities the sense that they cannot have the lives they wish because white America is oppressing them.
This feeling of helplessness only breeds resentment towards whites – even the ones who are not racists. The social justice movement’s focus on victimhood inevitably leads to another dangerous behavior that contributes to racism: labeling others with whom they disagree as bigots. We will discuss this further in the next part of the series.
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