I recently participated in a microaggressions workshop (that I was not required to do, but there was an expectation that I would). I understand the point of it, but as one of the few minorities in the room, it already felt awkward. But what I found particularly difficult is that we had to be paired up with someone and discuss the first time we became aware of racism. I turned to the friend I was sitting with, but she was paired up with someone else. So I had to pair up with a white lady I’d just met, and tell her a story I’d never told anyone. While she had her own story, the difference was I was the recipient of racism, whereas she had passively observed it. And for me, it happened at a young age, and it’s not something I told anyone or every really talked about. I found it more difficult than I realized, but had to act casual about it.
It was upsetting. And then after the training, I was pressed into a discussion where everyone is like, wasn’t that great?! And I’d really like to be like “hey, that was a shitty experience for me”... but I knew that’s not what anyone wanted to hear. And I know if I did say something, I’d have to explain why, and then deal with the fake over-concerned expressions of “empathy.”
I think that these training have value for white people who want to do better... but is there a way to do this without increasing the burden on the minorities in the room?