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Microaggressions And Racism Essay

1989 words - 8 pages

You may not know any bigots, you think “I don’t hate black people, so I’m not racist”, but you benefit from racism. There are certain privileges and opportunities you have that you do not even realize because you have not been deprived in certain ways. Racism, institutional and otherwise, does not always manifest itself in a way that makes it readily identifiable to onlookers, victims, or perpetrators; it is not always the outward aggression typically associated with being a hate crime. Racial microaggressions are a type of perceived racism. They are more subtle and ambiguous than the more hostile or overt expressions of racism, such as racial discrimination (CITE). Microaggressions are everyday verbal, visual, or environmental hostilities, slights, insults, and invalidations or mistreatment that occurs due to an individual’s race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc. (CITE). The concept of racial microaggressions has been around since the 1970s, but much of the current research is rooted in the work of two professors, Jack Dovidio, Ph.D. (Yale University) and Samuel Gaertner, Ph.D. (University of Delaware), and their explanations of aversive racism. Their research has its foundation in the idea that many well-intentioned Whites consciously believe in and profess equality, but unconsciously act in a racist manner, particularly in ambiguous situations (CITE).
In keeping with that foundation, racial microaggressions can be defined as the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated (CITE). These messages may be sent verbally ("You speak good English."), nonverbally (clutching one's purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots). Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators (PARAPH). The perpetrators typically harbor unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations and decision points.
There are three major types of racial microaggressions; microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. Microassaults are the conscious and intentional discriminatory actions, like displaying white supremacist symbols or preventing a child from dating outside of their race. Microinsults are the verbal, nonverbal, and environmental communications that discretely convey rudeness and insensitivity that demean an individual’s racial heritage or identity. For example, asking an employee of color how he/she got their job, implying it may be due to an affirmative action movement or quota system instead of their individual qualifications. Microinvalidations are the communications that subtly exclude, negate, or nullify, the thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person of color. This includes asking an individual of color where they were born, implying they are perpetual...

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