According to Dr. Derald Sue of Columbia — as well as many college students across the nation — those who are “empowered” or “privileged” are commonly racist (or sexist, or homophobic, or transphobic or . . .) without even knowing it. Such racism manifests itself in what’s called a “microaggression,” which is an “everyday slight, putdown, indignity, or invalidation unintentionally directed toward a marginalized group,” Sue says.
According to Sue, there are many types of microaggressions, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other factor that can make a group “socially marginalized.” These microaggressions can be expressed verbally . . . nonverbally (as with a woman clutching her purse when a black man walks by), and environmentally (as with an educational curriculum containing few books by female authors).
Asking an Asian student to help you with math homework could be a racial microaggression. Saying that you can only be a woman if you can reproduce could be a transgender microaggression. It all depends on who is listening, how you say it, and how the member of a “marginalized group” feels when you say it. Want to learn more about your subconscious discrimination? Click here.