Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Spotlight: Microaggressions

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Spotlight: Microaggressions

 | Monday, December 16, 2019

A microaggression is a subtle behavior – verbal or non-verbal, conscious or unconscious – directed at a member of a marginalized group that has a derogatory, harmful effect. A great video to watch to help better understand microaggressions and their effect on others can be found here.


Categories of Microaggressions






The most overt microaggression where the person committing the microaggression acted intentionally

and knew their behavior might be hurtful.

For example, using a derogatory term to refer to a person of color

would be a micro-assault.




Microinsults are the trickier microaggressions to identify. They are subtle acts that convey contempt and disrespect for someone. They are subtle, spur-of-the-moment, backhanded, and it can be hard to tell if the perpetrator is even aware

what they're doing is insulting.

A microinsult could involve a comment implying that a woman or person of color received their job due to affirmative action.




Microinvalidations are comments and behaviors that deny the experiences of marginalized group members. One common microaggression involves insisting that prejudice is no longer a problem in


A microinvalidation could involve telling a person of color that they are being “oversensitive” to a racist comment that was made.


Key Takeaways: Microaggressions

  • Microaggressions are everyday actions and behaviors that have harmful effects on marginalized groups.
  • Unlike other forms of discrimination, the perpetrator of a microaggression may or may not be aware of the harmful effects of their behavior.
  • Experiencing higher levels of microaggressions is linked to lower mental health.



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