Identifying Racial Microaggressions

After studying the persistent presence of stigmatizing representations of Black people in television, Harvard professor and psychiatrist Dr. Chester, who was also a Black man, coined the term “microaggressions” as the: “subtle, stunning, often automatic and nonverbal exchanges which are ‘put-downs’ of Black people.” Here are some of the most common examples, so you can recognize them and better call them out to others (and perhaps yourself too?).

Color Evasiveness
Denying a person of color’s racial/ethnic experiences
Example: “There is only one race, the human race”

Criminality Assumption
Presuming a person of color is deviant/criminal
Example: A store owner following a customer of color around the store

“Alien” In Own Land
The assumption that non-whites are foreign-born
Example: “Where are you from?” & “You speak good English”

Denial of Individual Racism
Denying or being immune to own racism and biases based on personal experience
Example: “I am not racist, I have Black friends”

Assigning Intelligence
Intelligence is assigned to a person of color based on their race
Example: “You are so articulate”

Myth of Individual Achievement
Statements that assert that people of color are given benefits in order to succeed
Example: “Everyone can succeed in society, if they work hard enough”

Undermining Values
Broadly assuming that values of the dominant/white culture are ideal
Example: “Why do you have to be so loid/animated?”

Source: Stephanie Shepherd Suganami, Instagram @steph_shep

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