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IT STARTS...with Recognizing Micoragressions

Micoragressions  - A comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).

Source:  Merriam-Webster (n.d.).  Definition of a microaggression.  Retrieved May 12, 2017 from


Microassault:  Conscious and intentional verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior, or purposeful discriminatory actions.  They are generally expressed in limited "private" situations (micro) that allow the perpetrator some degree of anonymity.  Examples:  referring to someone as "colored" or "Oriental," discouraging interracial interactions, deliberately serving a Caucasian patron before someone of color, and displaying a swastika.

Source:  Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., & Esquilin, M. (2007).  Racial aggressions in everyday life.  Retrieved May 12, 2017 from

Microinsults: Verbal, nonverbal, and environmental communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity that demean a person's racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a co-worker of color how he/she got his/her job, implying he/she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system.

Source:  Wing Sue, D. (2010). Racial microaggressions in everyday life:  Is subtle bias harmless?  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from

Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, a Caucasian person asking a Latino person where they were born, conveying the message that he/she are perpetual foreigners in their own land.

Source:  Wing Sue, D. (2010). Racial microaggressions in everyday life:  Is subtle bias harmless?  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from

How to take safe and purposeful action

It can be hard to know how to act in the moment, especially when microaggressions are likely to stir up an emotional response.  Here are some tips on how to begin to take safe and purposeful action:

Assess the Situation

  • Ensure you are safe from any physical or emotional immediate harm.

  • Refrain from reacting immediately.

  • Take a breath or create a moment of silence.

Model the Behavior

  • Model the behavior you want from the person or people you are confronting.

  • Avoid being sarcastic, snide or mocking.

  • Remember that the goal is to educate. It's about helping others to understand something from a different perspective.

Focus on the Event, Not the Person

  • Keep the focus of the conversation to the behavior or event

For the full article visit the link below.

Source:  Sehgal, P. (2016). Racial microaggressions:  The everyday assault.  American Psychiatric Association.  Retrieved May 11, 2017 from


An article exploring racial microagressions in everyday life.  Implications for clinical practice are explored:

Examples of everyday microagressions – which include common themes and the messages they send:

21 Racial Microagressions you hear on a daily basis.  This article include photos that can serve as great conversation starters: