Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian, created with George Lois, and Carl Fischer

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Project Introduction

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with four other members of my family (one of whom was not yet verbal, but very present in body — and undoubtedly was the unspoken context/motivation for the conversation, as we imagine the world she will grow up to experience).

It turned out that we all have dramatically different experiences as raced and gendered bodies in the world, and yet realized through that conversation how little we know about those different experiences. To describe only the racial aspects of the intersecting visible and invisible identities that shape our experience of this world, in the US we are South Asian, Latina-passing, I’m-not-sure-what-beyond-Brown and therefore other (my sister was still in the exhausted early stages of breastfeeding an infant, so listened more than spoke), White/Jewish, and too young to say how she’ll be perceived.

I’ve long embraced the metaphor for microaggression as death by a thousand cuts — you may not even notice them, but you’re gonna bleed out anyway. So, I told them I’d start sharing some of the cuts I am aware of. A thousand of them. “A thousand? Really?” Yup. And not going backwards in time, but only those since that conversation. Let’s see how long it takes to hit a thousand.

Yes, they are subtle. By definition , really — that’s the “micro” part. They’re not what racism, sexism, heteronormativity, etc etc “look like” in our collective imaginations. But each time I share one, imagine what would be different if I were in the body of a tall, straight-presenting white cis-man. Would people have said the same thing? Reacted to me in the same way? Expected the same thing of me?

And then imagine how many of these I face every day — so many that I don’t notice the majority of them.

And then you’ll see.

And if these stories make you uncomfortable because you feel implicated, because you feel judged? Just try to imagine how you and the environments you design and control make me feel.

Shall we begin?

Cut #1: Lyft Driver on April 17, 2019 https://medium.com/@intersectionist/cut-1-4078f02af4de

--

--

A series of brief illustrations of the metaphor for microaggression as death by a thousand cuts — you may not even notice them, but you’re gonna bleed out anyway. Drawn from the life of a gender-NOPE, AFAB, femme-y, queer, small, invisibly disabled, poly, brown person.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store