Microaggression refers to the daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups.
Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional, and everyday behaviors or comments that communicate derogatory or negative messages towards individuals or groups based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or other social identities.
These actions can be verbal or nonverbal, and they can be overt or covert in nature.
Microaggressions can take various forms, including:
1. Microassaults: Conscious and intentional acts of discrimination, such as using racial slurs or engaging in explicit acts of prejudice.
2. Microinsults: Indirect or subtle comments or behaviors that demean someone’s identity, such as making derogatory remarks about a person’s cultural practices or assuming their abilities based on stereotypes.
3. Microinvalidations: Statements that negate or dismiss the experiences or identities of marginalized individuals, such as saying “I don’t see color” or “You’re overreacting.”
Microaggressions can be harmful because they can contribute to a hostile or unwelcoming environment, perpetuate stereotypes, and undermine a person’s self-esteem and sense of belonging.
While they may seem innocuous or trivial on their own, their cumulative effect can have a significant impact on an individual’s well-being and contribute to systemic discrimination.
The term is applied to the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, including people of color, LGBT people, poor people, and disabled people.
They are brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.
The comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and the individuals unaware of the potential impact of their words.
The microaggression concept has been criticized for its lack of scientific basis, over-reliance on subjective evidence, and promotion of psychological fragility.
Avoiding behaviors that one interprets as microaggressions restricts one’s own freedom and causes emotional self-harm.
The use of authority figures to address microaggressions can lead to an atrophy of those skills needed to mediate one’s own disputes.
Microaggressions are common, everyday slights and comments that relate to appearance or identity such as class, gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, mother tongue, age, body shape, disability, or religion, etc.
They are thought to be an unconsciously held prejudice/beliefs which may be demonstrated consciously or unconsciously through daily verbal interactions.
Micro aggressions typically appear harmless to observers, but are considered a form of covert racism or everyday discrimination.
Macroaggressions are more extreme forms of racism.
Microaggressions are experienced by most stigmatized individuals and occur on a regular basis.
They are easily denied by those committing them, and harder to detect by members of the dominant culture, as they are often unaware they are causing harm.
Microaggressions are an altered face of racism, that has shifted over time from overt expressions of racial hatred and hate crimes, toward expressions of aversive racism, that are more subtle, ambiguous, and often unintentional.
Sue et al.suggest microaggressions seem to appear in four forms:
Microassault: an explicit racial derogation; verbal/nonverbal; e.g. name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.
Microinsult: communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity; subtle snubs; unknown to the perpetrator; hidden insulting message to the recipient.
Microinvalidation: communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.
Environmental Microaggressions (Macro-Level): Racial assaults, insults and invalidations which are manifested on systemic and environmental level.
Microaggressions are correlated to measures of bias.
Alien in own land: When people assume people of color are foreigners.
Denial of racial reality: When people emphasize that a person of color does not suffer from racial discrimination or inequality.
Discussions on race in the United States excluding Asian-Americans by focussing only on White and Black issues.
Refusal to acknowledge intra-ethnic differences: When a speaker ignores intra-ethnic differences and assumes a broad homogeneity over multiple ethnic groups.
Pathologizing others cultural values.
E.g.: Viewing the valuation of silence, a cultural norm present in some Asian communities, as a fault, leading to disadvantages caused by the expectation of verbal participation common in many Western academic settings.
Treating minorities as lesser human beings, or not treating others with equal rights or priority.
When people of color are stereotyped to have a certain level of intelligence based on their race.
Exoticization of non-white women: When non-white women are stereotyped as being in the exotic category based on gender, appearance, and media expectations.
Women encounter microaggressions in which they are made to feel inferior, sexually objectified, and bound to restrictive gender roles, both in the workplace and in academia, as well as in athletics.
Microaggressions based on gender are applies to female athletes when their abilities are compared only to men, when they are judged on attractiveness, or sexually attractive attire during competition.
Other examples of sexist microaggressions are: addressing someone by usingma sexist name, a man refusing to wash dishes because it is women’s work, displaying nude pin-ups of women at places of employment, someone making unwanted sexual advances toward another person.
Trans-specific microaggressions that transgender people face in healthcare settings, which include pathologization, sexualization, rejection, invalidation, exposure, isolation, intrusion, and coercion.
Bisexuals report microaggressions as others denying or dismissing their self-narratives or identity claims, being unable to understand or accept bisexuality as a possibility, pressuring them to change their bisexual identity, expecting them to be sexually promiscuous, and questioning their ability to maintain monogamous relationships.
Some LGBTQ individuals receiving expressions of microaggression come from people even within the LGBTQ community.
Members of overlapping marginal groups such as a gay Asian American man or a trans woman, experience microaggressions based in correspondingly varied forms of marginalization.
African American women report microaggressions related to characteristics of their hair: which may include invasion of personal space as an individual tries to touch it, or comments that a style that is different from that of other woman.
People with mental illness receive more overt forms of microaggression than subtle ones, coming from family and friends as well as from authority figures.
Themes of microaggression in individuals with mental illness include:
invalidation, assumption of inferiority, fear of mental illness, shaming of mental illness, and being treated as a second-class citizen.
People with an identity that lacks a sense of systemic power are subject to microaggressions; thus, persons with disabilities are subject to microaggressions.
People with marginalized identities,like individuals with disabilities may manifest are subject to microassaults, microinsult,s, or a microinvalidation.
People with physical disabilities also face microaggressions, such as
the misconception that those with disabilities want or require correction.
Members of marginalized groups have also find microaggressions committed by performers or artists associated with various forms of media, such as television, film, photography, music, and books.
Such cultural content molds society, allowing for unintentional bias to be absorbed by individuals based on their media consumption.
A study of racism in TV commercials describes microaggressions subtleties in the content: black people were more likely than white counterparts to be shown eating or participating in physical activity, and more likely to be shown working for, or serving others.
Negative stereotypes of Mexicans and Latinos in books, print, and photos, associated them with the state of racial discourse within majority culture and its dominance over minority groups in the US.
The portrayal of LGBT characters in film often present gay or lesbian characters in offensive ways.
Microaggression can target and marginalize any definable group,
including those who share an age grouping or belief system.
Microaggressions are a form of bullying that utilize subtle linguistic tactics to marginalize specific targets, revealing an underlying intolerance by implying the notion of otherness.
Microaggressions are subtle and perpetrators may be unaware of the harm they cause.
Recipients of microaggression often experience ambiguity, which may lead to dismissal of the event and blame themselves as overly sensitive to the encounter.
Perpetrators of microaggression often defend their microaggression as a misunderstanding, a joke, or something small that should not be blown out of proportion.
There is a correlation between likelihood to commit microaggressions, and racial bias.
Microaggression recipients may feel anger, frustration, exhaustion or feel under pressure to represent their group or to suppress their own cultural expression.
Over time, microaggressio are thought to lead to diminished self-confidence and a poor self-image for individuals, and potentially also to such mental-health problems as depression, anxiety, and trauma.
Mcroaggressions may be are more damaging than overt expressions of bigotry because they are small and therefore often ignored or downplayed, leading the victim to feel self-doubt for noticing or reacting to the encounter, rather than justifiable anger, and isolation rather than support from others about such incidents.