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Microaggressions: The big impact of "the little things"


Rutgers Social Justice Education

on 19 November 2015

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Transcript of Microaggressions: The big impact of "the little things"


The big impact of
"the little things"

"That's gay..."
That's Retarded...
You play ball like a girl!
Things that are gay:
When you do something clumsy or that something is worthy of reproach, you remind me of a person who has an intellectual disability.
Rape jokes
"Watch out for locals, off-campus can get so ghetto..."
You don't act Black.
This language devalues the power and worth of women and girls.
I am devaluing part of your identity while at the same time boxing you into a stereotype of what it means to be Black.
Both what you're describing and, usually unintentionally, LGBT people are ineffective, annoying, and useless.
It's not the same thing as hate crimes or overt bigotry
(Both of which still happen everyday!)
There are 3 forms of microaggression.
What is microaggression?
"the brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group."
Actually, it is a big deal and it goes deeper than just words...
...You're making a
big deal out of nothing.
It causes significant long-term harm.
It's not good for the perpetrators, either.
Dr. Derald Wing Sue
Thank you!
Microaggression can be:
More conscious than the other forms
Intended to hurt, intimidate, make victim feel unwelcome/unworthy
For example:

*Using slurs
*Avoiding people
*Displaying offensive images
*Telling/laughing at bigoted jokes
Similar to overt bigotry, but only happens when it's "safe"
Not committed consciously
For example:
*"You're strong for a girl."
*Assuming Asian people are good at math
*Crossing the street/checking your wallet when you pass a Black man
*Assuming LGBT people are promiscuous
Invalidates and denies the realities and experiences of the victim and assumes that everyone's experiences are/should be the same.
For example:

*Asking an Asian or Latino person where they're from
*Denying that bigotry "still" exists/can make life difficult
*"You're not a real..."
*The "color-blind" mentality
Subtle, but has an insensitive hidden message that demeans a person's identity group
Not committed consciously
Let's talk about some common microaggressions.
Did that really just happen?
Should I respond?
Am I overreacting?
What are the negative consequences if I speak up?
Victims of microaggression often feel unsafe & not included

It wouldn't do any good, anyway.
I'm sure my friend wouldn't hurt me on purpose.
Am I a coward?
Can feel exhausted and depleted and class/work/relationships suffers
Victims are affected physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally.
More at risk for illness and a decreased immune system
Microaggression contributes to serious anxiety and depression.
Not "bad" people; usually "good" people socialized by dominant culture.
A good person who has buried biases can experience warped reality, anxiety, & guilt.
Don't want to acknowledge it, so avoid/lie to themselves and others.
the residents of New Brunswick, who include people of color and working class folks, make me uncomfortable
The Sandlot
Gay people
Gay bars/gay friendly places
Gay pride flags/events
Happy people
Things that are not gay:
Everything else
Women are unable to achieve at the same level as men, femininity is negative
It's not "just a joke".
Telling these jokes promulgates rape culture and trivializes the suffering of survivors.
Oreos are cookies, not people.
Every person experiences their ethnicity differently.
Reflect: what does a "local" look like?
It enforces the stereotype that people with intellectual disabilities are less than or different from human.
“It hurts and scares me when I am the only person with intellectual disabilities on the bus and young people start making 'retard' jokes or references. Please put yourself on that bus and fill the bus with people who are different from you. Imagine that they start making jokes using a term that describes you. It hurts and it is scary.”

–Joseph Franklin Stephens, Special Olympics Virginia athlete and Global Messenger
"Mental retardation" used to be a medical term, but now its purpose is pejorative.
For more info, check out
"Microaggressions in Everday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation"
by Dr. Derald Wing Sue.
Anything else?
Compiled by the Cultural Centers @ Rutgers University
Adapted from UMD Inclusive Language Campaign
There's a difference between
"Diverse" vs. "Inclusive"
Learn more at:
What does it even mean to "act white?"
How much of your perceptions are based on stereotypes around race & class?
Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities (socialjustice.rutgers.edu)

Test your internal stereotypes:
Asian American Cultural Center (aacc.rutgers.edu)
Center for Latino Arts & Culture (clac.rutgers.edu)
Paul Robeson Cultural Center (prcc.rutgers.edu)
But how do they play out in everyday interactions?
Microaggression is generally unintentional, and not hateful in intent. However, regardless of
, they still make an
What's the big deal?...
Just because we live in a diverse world does not mean we always feel included, and it's important to bring light to microaggressions. Check out how one group of students responded:

Many microaggressions are committed from a lack of understanding and/or really knowing someone's experiences. This RU Ally Week checklist has some simple ways to help build authentic community!
Of course there are times when you need to simply reach out to a trusted staff or faculty member. You can also report instances of bias online confidentially.
Rutgers Slam Poetry Team
Microaggressions against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Community includes both sexual orientation AND Gender Identity!
Full transcript