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Recognizing microaggresions

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Often, microaggressions are never meant to hurt - acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult.Microaggressions do matter. The messages they send, though often unintentional, are nevertheless hurtful. They reinforce stereotypes that people with marginalized identities have heard their whole lives.

It starts with a willingness to share our experiences and to talk openly with others about comments and behaviors that are biased and hurtful. We need to create open and inclusive spaces, in workplaces, schools, volunteer opportunities, etc., where we can hold each other accountable, with compassion and respect, for the microaggressions we commit.

How can we address and minimize microaggressions in all our social spaces and interactions?

None of us are immune from committing microaggressions. All of us will say and do things that are biased and based on stereotypes and misinformation, even though most of us work hard to be inclusive. When we are raised in a society where bias and discrimination exist, we can’t help but be affected by it

To read first hand how all kinds of people experience microaggressions, everyday, click the link


"Diversity in the Classroom," USCLA Diversity and Faculty Development, 2014