The Politics of Emotional Dismissal

Myisha Cherry, writing at HuffingtonPost:

…I do not hold the view that anger or emotions in general are irrational. I believe that they are very much connected to the political life and rationality. Anger has an appropriate and productive moral dimension and should be reclaimed no matter who possesses it. I call this anger, “proper.” Proper anger is distinct from blind and destructive anger because it is not immoral. “Proper” implies that it is selfless, consistent with a high moral value system, promotes the preservation of one’s self and community, and is non-violent. This proper moral anger is appropriate upon witnessing unethical behavior and is appropriate upon witnessing an injustice. Proper anger is useful because it recognizes injustices, inspires deliberation and eventually can serve as a catalyst for justice. So when one dismisses another’s proper anger by perceiving that person or group as crazy, or by suggesting it is merely them being passionate, I believe it is a political tool to silence voices and to halt the democratic project we profess so much to believe in…

…To dismiss one’s anger as an outlaw emotion for the overly sensitive or as uncontrolled can be a political strategy that communicates to the angry that their lives are of no concern to others and that their anger is not to be taken seriously. This dismissal also communicates that we ought to condemn the angry for their expression of anger instead of looking at correcting the cause of the anger…

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