There was some buzz about this piece (so I heard on NPR) and you can see so in the comments section of the article. Buzz buzz.
A writer I have recently started following through her newsletter (NSFW) submitted the best response to the writer’s situation:
Her idea is that when someone says something that either makes you uncomfortable because you aren’t sure of their intentions, or it makes you uncomfortable because you know exactly what their intentions are, you can say, “What Do You Mean?”
The comments went on to discuss Justin Bieber since one of his most popular songs has the same title and a catchy (EXTREMELY CATCHY) tune. “What do you mean?”
It’s sort of playing dumb to ask, “what do you mean?” but at the same time it is perfect because you give the person the chance to explain themselves if they have been misinterpreted (by you or anyone else in present company). By saying, “What do you mean?” you can also stop someone in their (possibly racist) tracks so they will re-think what they say. They cannot be guaranteed to re-think what they actually think but it can be a start. You can take a micro-aggression and turn it into a micro-step to a better more peaceful world.