The dubious honour of being nominated Yoko Ono’s doppelgänger is almost always followed by “when she was young of course”. As if the age factor getting in the way of what ought to be regarded as a compliment should be a concern.
Quite apart from possibly undermining my individuality, there is something far more sensitive to consider. Seeing as this comment has only ever come from those of different ethnicity to me, it might as well translate as “you all look the same”.
Race is, as ever, dodgy ground to cover. Some of these microaggressions are so overt (and hardly ‘micro’) that labelling them racist would be no trouble at all. The others are less conspicuous as such, and seemingly forgivable due to lack of malice and genuine ignorance. I recognise that, on some level, everyone’s guilty of the latter. Hence prejudice, a part of our nature, in its myriad forms.
We’ve all been there…the odd remark made in innocence and with the best of intentions, yet somehow hitting the proverbial chip. The “we’re all human” response has often been my reflex. Surely the fact that I never meant to cause offence should negate the oversight?
It’s easy to dismiss these slights as trivial, but that is precisely what makes them all the more pernicious. Each transgression, left to run its course unimpeded, reinforces the you-are-not-one-of-us barrier. And if there’s one thing that will most certainly guarantee conflict, it’s alienation.
“These comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent and unsafe realities onto peoples’ workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and public transportation/space environments.”
Bringing John Lennon back to life would be an easier task than imagining a world less divided than it is. Perhaps someday the ‘no borders’ ideal will become less utopian. Meanwhile, I’d settle for mere acknowledgement that mistakes are made on all sides, but habitual denial driven by fear of being branded racist is the greater harm.