- Macroaggressions and Civil Discourse
In his quest to “Make America Great Again,” Donald J. Trump has actually made America racist and sexist again. Trump’s bid for presidency increased the division in the country and has provided a harbinger of opportunities for those on the fringes of society to take the mainstage with violence and hate-spewed vitriol, maliciousness, and fury. His campaign brought to the forefront people and organizations stoked in racism and divisiveness, such as David Duke, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jason Kessler, and Richard Spencer—all part of the Klu Klux Klan or other alt-right and white supremacist movements.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (2016), there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation across the nation in the ten days following Trump’s election. In most cases, the perpetrators were strangers to the victims. These perpetrators left their victims with written and verbal messages of hate, inappropriate comments, and damaged property, from painting graffiti on church walls and cars to painting and leaving signs on victims’ houses. Some victims reported physical violence and interactions with the perpetrators as they used Trump’s name to excuse their crimes and loss of common sense and decency. In the discussion that follows, we argue that the election of Donald J. Trump has fostered macroaggressions to replace [End Page 73] the all too common microaggressions of the past. Additionally, we posit that macroaggressions will have a substantial effect on the treatment of dually marginalized women of color.
White Supremacy in the Age of Trumpism
White supremacists’ hate, violence, and verbal threats are primarily directed toward fellow Americans and people of color, such as African Americans, Asians, and Latinos, along with Jews, and Muslims (Giroux 2017). White supremacists’ groups include the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and their sympathizers. Phrases such as the “alt-right,” “Unite the Right,” and “Take our Country Back” have been their rallying cries. Illing (2016) stated that this last slogan “is an expression of racial and cultural resentment.” Stolberg and Rosenthal (2017) suggest the groups have become emboldened since the election of Trump. Trump’s presidency has pitted American citizens against one another and has caused loss of lives and other injuries, wherever they gather, such as most recently in the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally, where 34 people were injured and three died, including Heather Heyer, 34 years old, one of the peaceful demonstrators (Yan, Sayers, and Almasy 2017).
During his short tenure, Trump’s presidency has been filled with both covert and overt acts of racism, sexism, and intolerance. Trump ran his campaign on racial resentment and fear and has caused further divisions within the nation and the world with continued caustic sarcastic comments and name calling. These overt forms of racism and intolerance were previously described as “microaggressions.” Merriam-Webster defines a microaggression as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).” However, we posit that these instances of hatred should be termed macroaggressions, not microaggressions.
For instance, as a black female professor, my students often feel compelled to tell me “how smart I am,” a practice that is not common in classrooms taught by white faculty. During the past few semesters, I have received more combative behavior in class concerning the lectures and discussions about “white privilege” by undergraduate students. Additionally, I was once informed that “people of color get jobs because they’re more marketable,” implying that their status as a person of color, not as an intellectual, grants them greater marketability. There has also been a greater increase of student emboldenment to usurp my authority and speak directly with university administrators concerning the content in my course about diversity. Further, [End Page 74] after Trump’s election, a female friend at a predominately white institution removed her hijab and refuses to wear it in fear of what could happen to her during this hostile time in America. Her fears are founded, especially after the mosque she attends was damaged with gunfire (Fullhart 2016).
The problem with microaggression is...