What are microaggressions?
What are the types of microaggressions?
|Type of microaggressions||Example|
|Microinequities are overt and discriminatory. They can be explicit verbal or nonverbal attacks intended to hurt a victim based on their identity or identities shown through name calling, avoidant behaviour or purposeful discriminatory actions.||Deliberately servicing a White patron first before a racialized person.|
|Microassaults are subtle forms of rude or insensitive communication–usually not recognized as such by a perpetrator–that demean a person’s identity or identities. They can be considered as back-handed compliments.||Telling a racialized person born in Canada that their “English is really good.”|
|Microinvalidations are communications that discredit the thoughts, feelings or experiences of people from marginalized groups. They can also be actions that result in exclusion and a lack of belonging.||
A racialized person tells their White friend about a situation where they felt discriminated against and are told to “stop being so sensitive.”
The absence of Black narratives in curriculum.
The themes of a specific microaggression vary depending on the targeted group or person. Here are some examples of common microaggression themes against specific groups of people:
|Alien in one’s land||
|Ascription of intelligence||
Criminality–assumption of criminal status
Denial of individual racism/sexism
|Myth of meritocracy||
|Pathologizing cultural values and
|Traditional gender role
prejudicing and stereotyping
How can microaggressions cause harm?
How can we address microaggressions?
How can we confront microaggressions?
Safety comes first. So before confronting microaggressions, ensure that you are safe and that it is safe to do so.
Make the invisible visible
- undermine the offender’s action
- point out the offender’s action
- challenge the stereotype
- broaden the ascribed trait to a universal human behaviour
- ask for clarification
Disarm the microaggression
- express disagreement
- state values and set limits against the offender
- describe what is happening out loud
- interrupt and redirect
Educate the offender
- point out the commonality
- appeal to the offender’s values and principles
- differentiate between intent and impact
- promote empathy
- point out how the offender benefits
Seek external validation
- alert authorities
- report the act
- seek therapy/counselling
- seek support through spirituality, religion, community or support group
- set up a buddy system
Self-educate to learn more
Microaggressions in Everyday Society with Dr. Sue
Unpacking microaggressions series in TMU Today
Books for kids
- All the Colours We Are by Katie Kissinger (external link)
- IntersectionAllies: We Make Room for All by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi and forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw (external link)
- Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor (external link)
- Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina (external link)
Books for teens
- How to Fight Racism Young Reader's Edition by Jemar Tisby (external link)
- Rising Troublemaker: A Fear-Fighter Manual for Teens by Luvvie Ajayi Jones (external link)
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (external link)
Resources for adults
- 3 Simple Steps to Stop a Microaggression (external link)
- Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald (external link)
- Discussion Card Kit: Let’s Learn to Respond (external link)
- Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation by Dr. Derad Wing Sue (external link)
- (PDF file) Microaggression: More Than Just Race by Dr. Derald Wing Sue (external link)
- Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions by Michael Baran and Tiffany Jana (external link)
Rini, R. (2021). The ethics of microaggression. Routledge.
Sue, D. W., & Spanierman, L. (2020). Microaggressions in everyday life (Second; 2nd; ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
Sue, D. W., Capodilupo C.M., Torino G.C., Bucceri J.M., Holder A.M., Nadal K.L., Esquilin M. Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice. Am Psychol. 2007 May-Jun;62(4):271-86. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271. PMID: 17516773.