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Racial Microagressions. 3/8/2016 – Lunch break

MICHAEL stands in the middle of a paper craft store in Flatiron. He’s wearing a tan sweater with a zip collar, black Dockers, and seafoam sneakers. He furiously types up personal musings about Kim Kardashian on his phone. He looks like a regular guy. He’s also black. But really he’s just a regular person. Looking at him, you wouldn’t be able to tell he was an Account Executive for a start up. You wouldn’t be able to tellif he hated or loved his job. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to tell anything about him. Other than he’s a guy who has been writing something furiously into his phone.

A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN walks in holding some bags. She is white, but it’s okay. She’s wearing a large fur coat. And sweatpants. Another white person in a paper craft store. Michael almost doesn’t see her. But she sees him as she passes three women and one man. We will call her SUZANNE. She smiles.

Suzanne: Hi!

Michael raises his eyebrow. He does not know this woman, and she is distracting him, but whatever, she’s an elder and she said hi.

Michael: … Hello.

Suzanne: You work here? Right?

Michael is sent into a rage, but the AVG Anti-racism in his brain flags it and his microagression defense contains the righteous fury brewing in his bones.

Michael: Um. No.

Suzanne feels awkward. Her eyes dart. Her soul flies out of her body.

Suzanne: Oh… I thought you worked here. You look like you work here. Where can I find…

I left immediately, because in that moment, I’d rather be at work. This was a perfect microagression because in her brain her assumption was innocuous. And it’s not something I can react to without looking like a crazy person, or a psycho bleeding heart liberal media brainwashed PC policeman, or an elitist myself.

But I do wish I asked her one thing.

Michael: Oh? I look like I work here? Why’s that? 

I doubt it really had anything to do with my utterly forgettable outfit.

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