A microaggression is a statement or action of indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination. These are slights, put downs or stereotypes are often delivered without a thought to the harmful impact of the words used. Examples include:

  • You throw like a girl
  • That’s so gay
  • You’re Asian, so you must be good at math
  • Where are you REALLY from

These types of “subtle bigotry” can be harmful as they reinforce stereotypes and biases in our cultures. Because, by their nature, they’re not intended to cause harm or hurt, they are often disregarded by those who are saying them, despite the impact on the recipient. In this activity, students will learn to spot microaggressions by first identifying microaggressions they’ve encountered - or perhaps even said.

Consider watching/sharing Dr. Derald Wing Sue’s Microaggressions in his own words.


1. Show students the following ads

2. Ask students:

  • What microaggressions did you notice?
  • How did the ad make you feel?

3. Contemplate: Ask students to consider a time they were judged based on their gender, sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, looks or other characteristics. Encourage students to anonymously write down microaggressions they’ve encountered

  • Collect their answers and read them anonymously
  • With each example ask students to consider:

       - What do you think the intention of the person saying the microaggression was? (e.g. Gay people have great fashion - intention may have been a compliment)

        - What could the impact be on the person who heard it?

        - How did the ad make you feel?

4. Putting it all together

  • Introduce the students to the term allyship and what it means to be an ally
  • Look at the microaggressions again and brainstorm how students could stand up to this type of bigotry (e.g. You’re Asian, aren’t you supposed to be good at math? → Yes, because all people who look like you are the same, right)


Victoria Ford

Victoria thinks the world could do with a lot more heart. Her goal? To encourage others to stand up, speak out and push back against hatred.


A microaggression is a statement or action of indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination.