Micro-Aggressions and Chaos Theory

A set of random thoughts for today….they maybe too random for most people. And perhaps dangerous ground to tread.

A friend sent me this. (Go read it, I’ll wait.)

Ok, ready?

I think this comic is an excellent illustration of how little differences over time affect outcomes. Clearly, not everyone has the same outcomes, when even starting in roughly the same place with the same opportunities. Further “equivalent” opportunities do not result in “equivalent” outcomes.

Chaos theory, in what is to me at least, a very similar manner, describes the sensitivity of outcomes to initial conditions. Even tiny differences in rounding can lead to an inability to accurately predict outcomes.

Have you ever learned to juggle? Once an individual masters the basic understanding that there is never really more than one ball in the air at a time (save for the briefest of an instant), the three-ball cascade is simple to begin and maintain. At some point though, a toss will be slightly ahead of or behind the desired plane. This will affect the next catch, and the next throw, and so on. Eventually the juggler is chasing after the balls that have gotten away from him.

A little change, a little difference, ultimately throws the entire system off.

Microaggressions, “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership,” can also be considered as micro-influences if we make it a more generic concept. Or, if we consider each moment in time as a starting point to the next event, they are part of defining the initial state of individual. In other words, microaggressions influence the path of an individual (or even a group) from one event to the next.

“Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.”

Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Everything I write, believe it or not, recognize it or not, is about understanding higher education. Everything.

 This may not be finished 

2 thoughts on “Micro-Aggressions and Chaos Theory

    • Thanks. Not meaning to suggest that micro-aggressions play only a “small part” other than perhaps individually. It is the weight of them, the continual application of micro-aggression that tips the scale. Or, in another way, enough tiny grains of sand eventually become a ton that can break an axle, but also only less than a handful in a gearbox can do just as much damage.

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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