*Books* that touch on discrimination, microaggressions and intent
April 22, 2021 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Books only! I am seeking book recommendations that deal at least in part with the assumptions that people have about intent, microaggressions and others' experience of discrimination.

I was having a conversation with a friend and we were talking about the ways in which intent matters and the ways in which it doesn't. For instance, if you have a close relationship with someone, you may consider their intent if they do something ignorant or unkind since you have a pre-existing relationship with them that informs your response. But when you interact with, eg, a stranger, a senior person at work, a politician, etc, you are dealing with their "public" self and you can't and shouldn't get into questions of intent.

As a default, we go with "intent doesn't matter", but I think many people encounter specific situations where we treat intent as though it does matter. This is different from being pressured to treat intent as if it matters - it is something that I think we often do spontaneously. Is this good because it takes nuance and specific relations into account? is it bad because it's about semi-conscious/unspoken social pressure and privileges in-groups?

We were thinking about public and private, friends and strangers and how people respond to microaggressions in particular. Are there books you would recommend that deal with questions of intent, microaggressions in social circles, etc?

The books must be books, not articles or websites, but they don't need to be entirely about this topic.
posted by Frowner to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The book Subtle Acts of Exclusion has been in our D&I library, and I found it helpful for conversations about microaggressions.
posted by xingcat at 7:15 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Subtle Acts of Exclusion, but xingcat got there first.
posted by okayokayigive at 7:39 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

The Ethics of Microaggression by Regina Rini. I heard her talk about it on an episode of The New Books Network podcast. The most interesting thing to me was where the term came from, but she definitely things the idea through pretty well.
posted by catquas at 9:59 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

Cathy Hong's book Minor Feelings.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:18 PM on April 22

Such a Fun Age
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:10 PM on April 22

This question reminds me of a book I intend to read - "Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law", and hate crime is definitely an area where people treat intent as though it matters.

This review quote captures how it seems relevant: "the vast difference in the intent behind the act... reveals why bias crimes inflict so much more pain on the individual -- and on the targeted community".
posted by bashing rocks together at 3:00 PM on April 23

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