Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

Dr. Sue (Laureate Education, 2011) describes Micro aggression as “brief everyday indignities that are verbal, behavioral or environmental that are intentional or unintentionally communicated to women, people of color to gay/lesbians that have an insulting message behind them that often causes severe psychological distress and harm”.

I remember one microaggression that I witnessed in a restaurant where a black man who had come in before a white couple had his order taken after the couple. He was very upset about it and let it be known. The waiter’s explanation that he had not seen him made matters worse.  Another case that was brought to my attention was one where the actor, Danny Glover was talking about the taxi driver in New York who did not stop for him. The taxi driver told him that he was not going where he wanted to go. This was interesting because the normal procedure is that the taxi driver goes where the client wants to go! This made Mr. Glover feel that he was not visible to him.

We have a Chinese American teacher at my school that was born and raised in New York. One parent was very excited to meet her and asked if she could teach her daughter some Chinese words. The teacher responded by telling her that she did not speak Chinese, and that she only knew a few words. The message here was that she was a foreigner.  Although she dismissed the incident with an eye roll, it irritated her.

I too have experience racial micro aggressions. I speak with a slight British accent. That is because I went to schools in Kenya that were run by English teachers and elocution was part of the English class. Whenever I meet a new person, they ask me where I am from and then proceed by saying “you speak good English”.  The message I get is Africans do not speak good English.

I think this week’s topic has really underscored the fact that we all need to be more aware about the micro aggressions that we all commit at some point in our daily interactions.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Microaggressions in everyday life [Video file]. Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

  1. Excellent examples of subtle every day encounters, to depictions in media, to personal experiences of micoaggressions. Your post also supports a variety of microaggressions based on race or expectations of language within different ethnicities. Whether microaggressions are hurtful, subtle, or subconscious, they always leave a sense of disappointment for our expectations of our fellow “(wo)man”


  2. You have so many good examples. We just need to be sensitive to others’ feelings and have empathy for those around us. My husband is half Japanese, but learned to speak Japanese when he was 21 and lived in Japan for two years. He said that it really is a big complement when someone tells him he speaks Japanese well. Because of this experience, he is more likely to complement someone else. But he must be sure he knows their situation and doesn’t make assumptions. It’s about knowledge, understanding, and empathy. Thanks so much for sharing!


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