Microaggressions are subtle, often unconscious or unintentional actions or behaviors that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to people based on their marginalized identities. These actions can take various forms, including verbal comments, nonverbal gestures, and everyday actions that may seem harmless to the person engaging in them, but can have a significant impact on the person receiving them.

Examples of microaggressions can include:

  • Making assumptions about someone’s background or identity based on their appearance
  • Using derogatory language or slurs
  • Excluding someone from social or professional opportunities because of their identity

Microaggressions can be directed at any marginalized group, including people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, disabled people, and women. Microaggressions can be hurtful and harmful, and can contribute to the marginalization and oppression of marginalized groups. It is important to be aware of microaggressions and to strive to avoid engaging in them, in order to create a more inclusive and respectful society.

Take Action

Easy ways to address microaggressions at your school or workplace.

Educate yourself about the various forms that they can take and the impact that they can have on people. This can help you to become more aware of your own actions and behaviors, and to better understand the experiences of others. You can learn about microaggressions through books, articles, workshops, and other resources.

If you witness a microaggression being directed at someone else,  speak up and intervene. This can be as simple as saying something like “that comment was hurtful,” or “please don’t use that language”. It’s important to be respectful and considerate in your approach, and to be mindful of your own safety and the safety of others.

If you are the recipient of a microaggression, you may choose to address it directly with the person who engaged in the behavior. Using “I” statements can be an effective way to communicate your feelings and to express the impact of the microaggression on you. For example, you might say something like, “I feel hurt when you make assumptions about my background based on my appearance” or “I feel disrespected when you use that language”. 

Learn More

How Islamophobia Silently Affects Muslim Students

While some Islamophobic attacks get media attention, everyday bigotry is normalized in many spaces, including schools.

Fight Racism Within Gen Z

Like members of Gen Z, younger generations’ racist beliefs and actions are often seen as youthful mistakes. But white supremacy doesn’t end with age.

How to Address Microaggressions

We must leverage our privilege to dismantle racial microaggressions in the workplace and other social spaces.

Related Words and Phrases

Join the newsletter crew.

Learn a new term each day in our free daily newsletter.

Start Typing