Microaggressive Racism/Classism on the Wesside?

About a month ago, KPCC, hosted a talk at UC-Irvine about microaggressions, which is surprising, because it's an academic topic which has now become a largely misunderstood public topic. 

When I attended the talk, I thought the examples given of microaggression at work were kind of weak because they lacked any context.  One example that I thought was weak and hurt public understanding of microaggressions, "people asking an individual "where are you from?" 

Today, I think I have better examples.

Today, I went to buy the kid a very expensive 1st Birthday cake. 

For that we had to trek all the way up to the Little Ethiopia in West LA, which is actually very close to the office where my sister and I work. 

On the way there, we had to find parking in the neighborhood on Whitworth Street.

I know this neighborhood sort of well;  the kind that does not want outsiders to infiltrate their parking spaces.  They have three different types of parking signs per post --- one telling you that you cannot park there from 6PM to 8AM, one telling you that anytime after 8AM or before 6PM is only for 2 hours, and that if you have a district sticker, these signs don't apply to you.

Now, I like to think of myself as an Anthropologist who notices racism when it happens, but I guess I miss a lot of subtle cues, according to my wife.

My wife is from Wilmington, CA and grew up in and around Mexicans and blacks.  She tells me that going to get her MA at Loyola Marymount with white kids was kind of a culture shock for her. 

I've grown up in and around public spaces with white people.  It was kind of a status thing within the Filipino kids and parents to say that I was going to private school with the white kids, the Loyola that is an all-boys high school. 

I think my wife picks up some cues that are not there sometimes, but then other times she's dead on about what she notices.

She's told me about child-adult-hoods of being followed while at stores, or people acting suspiciously around her. 

She's not even necessarily into race and ethnicity scholarship like I am, but she has a keen awareness of her settings and the social perceptions that surround her.

Today, she noticed two things that I completely missed.

1)  As we got out of our car after changing our son's diaper, we headed north towards a sidewalk across from us to go left. 

Another couple, taller, whiter (probably judged to be better looking by industry standards) with a younger baby in a stroller, heading south on the sidewalk was headed our same direction.  I was carrying our baby over my shoulder.

According to my wife, they walked, and were initially ahead of us, but they let us pass.

I did not think anything of it.  I just thought they let us get ahead.

She thought they might have thought we were suspicious and let us go ahead.

2)  On our way back from the cake shop, we walked back to our car. 

On the phone, I heard some guy talking loud.  It's like he was almost yelling at the phone.

I had some inkling of a feeling that we were being watched, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly where. 

My wife brought it up later, and it's funny, that was kind of suspicious too.

We don't know the intent of any of these individuals, but if my wife perceives a slight, then I generally trust her judgment mostly because she tends not to complain about strangers she does not know.

This doesn't really take away anything from us, but it does make us reflect on "our place" in society.  As both educated professionals (or sort of professionals in my case), both of us know we belong and can hang, but it's this type of thing that subtly communicated to us in our younger years that we could not and did not quite belong with rich white people.

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