Joe Biden is the new (46th) president and Kamala Harris is the new (49th) vice president.
I, like millions of others, watched the inauguration today. But unlike many, I watched with a cool sort of dejection as I thought about what these people represented.
Indeed, they are history-makers (Kamala, sex/racially speaking) and record-breakers (Joe, age-wise). But to me, they also symbolize a couple of persistent sorts of microaggressions...
Derald Wing Sue, author of Race Talk And The Conspiracy of Silence (a book I'd recommend) defines a microaggression as:
"The everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations, or those who are marginalized experience in their day-to-day interactions with people [from the dominant group in any given situation, etc.]."
Some of you literalist clowns who have trouble analyzing symbolism or anything intangible might be scoffing already, and churning out rebuttals:
Clowns: "Interaction??? When have you ever met Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, huh?"
Me: "In our increasingly digital world, interactions are no longer limited to our physical spaces/interactions. We are also our data and digital presences online. Therefore, it's not necessary for me to physically meet Joe or Kamala for us to interact or for me to be affected/influenced by what they say/do. Over the 2020 election season, I have interacted, to various degrees, with many of the candidate who vied for my vote last November."
Clowns: "This is Inauguration Day! It's a special day! Unique and one-of-a-kind! How can you use a word with a denotation that says a thing has to happen every day???"
Me: "First, in Sue's definition, the word 'everyday' is used figuratively to connote the concept of something being commonplace or happening frequently. Second, Inauguration Day fits that description as a type of day that has happened every four years in this country for nearly 2.5 centuries. Finally, Inauguration Day is a day like any other--with a sun rising and setting, holding 24 hours in between."
Clowns: "'Slights' and 'indignities'??? 'Put-downs' and 'insults' on 'marginalized communities'??? I watched the whole inauguration! They celebrated Kamala Harris and they showed diversity!!! They didn't call anyone names!!! What the hell are you talking about?!"
Me: "Context is everything here, Ronald McDonald. So, as Nigerians say sometimes, 'catch this cruise'..."
The gerontocracy within the Democratic Party (DP) vindictively shoved Hillary R. Clinton (HRC) down the throats of democrats, liberals, and leftists in 2016. They tried to transform Barack Obama's legacy and popularity into fuel to to feed HRC's campaign. Barack Obama was tossed into the choir of star-studded sycophants who said things like: 'Ain't nobody better than Hillary!'
Think I'm lying? Watch him speak in the video below:
Even then, I perceived this commentary to be a type of indignity. Yes, it was commonplace for former political adversaries in the same party to eventually support each other, but why did it have to be done in this way?
Why the self-debasement??? For the critical viewer, Obama's words here (arguably) make him look like some sort of fraud or fluke--after all, wasn't one of the main issues they had with him in 2008 his "lack" of qualifications??? This becomes even stranger when one considers the fact that he was just as qualified as anybody else, because each candidate running was running to be hired for the job, as there were no incumbents in 2008!
Was the prostration of this decorated (Black) man really necessary just to endorse HRC in 2016??? If the roles were reversed, would HRC have endorsed Obama in this manner? Must Obama, the contemporary star of the "Black Leaders Pantheon" (you know them: MLK Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, etc.) have been used like a mule to work for (a white) somebody else's benefit?
Where had we seen this before???
And what does this signal to Black/African Americans about their accolades?
I'll tell you:
It signals that whites feel they have the right to subjugate the Blacks around them that they were "made" to feel inferior to at any time. It signals that acknowledgement for our accolades comes at a steeper price than other people's. We continue to have to pay more for the spots we earn when we battle against the odds in public and against imposter syndrome in private!
Ironically, there's always someone, something, somewhere that is somehow used to bring the Black stars back down to earth. Back down to being put-down. Just like they like us.
Normally with Black males, they do this by invoking the Black Buck stereotype (as described in Donald Bogle's excellent book: Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks). Think: Michael Jackson (King of Pop), Muhammad Ali (boxing legend), Usain Bolt (track legend), Kobe Bryant (basketball legend), O. J. Simpson (football legend), Tiger Woods (golf legend), etc. Unfortunately for them, Obama was not that kind of negro, so they had to look for another way to debase him (i.e. putting him on a stage to ask left-leaning Americans to support their rancid girl-boss).
Oh, and, to tie up loose ends, the DP gerontocracy smothered voices of the more progressive branch of the party (comprised of youth, leftists, and the poor) that supported Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed 'democratic socialist'.
This was a slight against the will of the youth, the leftists, and the poor. And these progressive parts of the DP did not take this slight lightly. They formed a faction that would survive into the 2020 election cycle. But in 2016, as if for revenge, many of them either abstained for voting for HRC, or voted for Trump instead.
And alas, Hillary lost. (Yeah. Turns out Obeezy's popularity was not transferrable, LMAO). The DP was in shambles as Trump took office in 2016.
We raw-dogged it with our misogynistic, racist, pimp Donald J. Trump, for four years and came away with a disease that killed 400,000 of us due to mismanagement. Then it was election season (2020) again. Bernie Sanders (a good sport, I must say--although racist), returned as the strongest contender for whoever the DP's chosen child would be this time.
This time, the DP played nice and strung Bernie and his crowd along till around Super Tuesday. Then they employed several tricks to ditch him (ex. using Elizabeth Warren's refusal to concede in a timely manner to split Sander's votes). The DP top brass had realized that it was a mistake to so overtly favor one candidate over others after 2016. In 2020, the plan was to make sure that everyone felt like they had a chance to be seen/heard...
But some of us noticed the slight anyway. As I said somewhere once before, even a whispered insult is an insult. Likewise, a slight is a slight. The chosen candidate of the progressive wing of the DP had been gagged again. Although there was less outrage this time, people still grumbled within the party.
After Super Tuesday, Joe Biden was suddenly the front-runner.
How tone deaf, Democrats.
As Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated in the streets against police brutality (which was a symptom of the larger marginalization Black people faced in general), this guy was the DP's chosen one?!
Mr. White Mediocrity himself?! An occasionally unintelligible, 78-year-old, racist, white man??? The "nice-guy-who's-been-hurt-before" Joe Biden??? The dude who was at the center of the 1994 crime bill that exacerbated the mass incarceration of Blacks in America?! The guy who was rejected twice before by the American people for president?! The guy who, as apologists refer to it, 'pUt HiS fOoT iN hIs MoUtH' whenever he simply spoke his racist mind?!
Enter what I perceived as microaggression #1: When one is white (especially if they're a white male), excellence is not required to lead or get a chance. You can just be "ok" and the world could be laid at your feet. (Where else have we seen this message pushed in the media? The cartoon troupe of American families with irrelevant/fat/mediocre/unattractive, white patriarchs with hot housewives: The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Great North, etc. We've seen it in the movie theaters. We've seen it at the White House too with Trump, who has no redeeming qualities but his money.). Receiving this message reminded of how I had to be excellent (and then some) to get a fraction of the chances allotted to people like Joe.
After that, I thought about how all effort that might not even pay off since the police could waste me at anytime. Look at what they did to Botham Jean.
Just listen to him!
For this video, skip to 7:10.
How many insults would you say were piled into these three videos? I counted six. The worst insults (to me) included three more microaggressions:
Microaggression #2) The First Video: Joe's insinuation that Black people are a political monolith or that we owe anybody our vote/political participation.
Microaggression #3) The Second Video: Joe's statement at ~7:14 where he linked his exposure to Blacks with exposure to pests (roaches). Together, these invoke the stereotype of Black people being poor/living in the ghetto. Stereotypes are insulting because they 1) generalize/homogenize groups of people and their experiences; and 2) are largely incorrect or unrealistic. A person from a dominant group using stereotypes in communication with a member of a subordinate group as a means to navigate an experience with them is a textbook example of a microaggression.
Microaggression #4) The Third Video: The Freudian slip in which he showed us how deeply the notion of racial essentialism was rooted in his mind--Biden juxtaposed poor kids to white kids, which insinuated that white kids were rich kids, and by ex