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