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Racial Microaggresions

A microaggression is the casual degradation of any marginalized group. The term was coined by
psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and
dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans. Eventually, the term
came to encompass the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, such as the poor or the
disabled

Theme Microaggression Example Implicit Message


1) Criminality: A person is If something comes up missing You are a criminal.
presumed to be dangerous, or a fight ensues, a Black or
criminal, or deviant based on Latino person is assumed to be
their race, nationality and/or the culprit.
sexual orientation

2)Denial of individual prejudice: “I’m not racist. I have several I am immune to racism because
A statement made by those Black friends.” I have friends of color.
with social privilege to deny “As a woman, I know what you Your racial oppression is no
that they have that privilege or go through as a racial minority. different than my gender
any oppressive thinking oppression. I can’t be a racist.
I’m like you
3)Myth of meritocracy: We all know she got hired Women are not as qualified as
Statements which assert that because she is a woman! (often male candidates; Gender was
race, class, gender, abilities or said in a male dominated field) "used" as a way to get ahead.
sexual orientation do not play a
role in life success
4)Religious or cultural You are engaged to someone Your traditions are ridiculous.
superiority: When a person you never met? What about Your parents don't care about
assumes that their race, falling in love? You didn't stand you. The only way to get
religion, or culture (broadly up for your independence? married is the way we do it
defined) is better than others’ here.

5)Environmental The only options for gender on Transgender individuals do not


microaggressions: Ways in university forms are "male" and belong or matter here
which larger systems beyond "female"
the individual realm (such as
institutional policies and
practices) work to maintain
systems of privilege and
oppression