On Microaggressions and Their Impact

As SunShower launches our new course, Disarming Microaggressions with Derald Wing Sue Ph.D., we’re grateful to see microaggressions gaining wider attention in the media.

Michelle Singletary explores common misconceptions about race and inequality in her 10-part series for the Washington Post called Sincerely, Michelle. She devotes one installment to the topic of microaggressions, speaking about the effects of the subtle, and even well-meaning, discriminations and mistreatments in her daily life. You can read her article here.

Michelle shares a few of these examples in the article, including this one:

A while ago, my family was vacationing at a resort in Orlando. My husband was tossing our three young children around in the pool, to their audible delight. I was sitting nearby on a lounge chair, reading a book. There were other parents in the water playing with their children as well.

After another shriek of laughter from my kids, I looked up and saw a White man, perhaps in his mid-60s, splashing toward my family. He waded up to my 40-something husband and said, loud enough for me to hear as well: “You have such a nice family. It’s so nice to see you playing with your children.”

My husband and I shared a glance. He could see me getting steamed. I wanted to say something about this man’s offensive statement, but my husband just shook his head and mouthed, “Let it go.”

Michelle references Dr. Derald Wing Sue and his pioneering work on microaggressions, quoting him in her article to highlight how un-micro microaggressions are to the recipient: “The power of microaggressions lies in their invisibility to the perpetrator, who is unaware that he or she has engaged in a behavior that threatens and demeans the recipient of such a communication.” She mentions Dr. Sue’s work in microinterventions, and this is where we come in with our new course that educates people about microaggressions and offers skills to speak up, interrupt and disarm them in the moment or afterwards.

She concludes with a clarion call: “If your biased question, ill-conceived compliment, befuddled stare or racist statement is called out, don’t get defensive or trivialize the incident. Black people need you to be able to accept the feedback, because it’s literally detrimental to our psychological and physical health to stay silent and seethe in the face of racial microaggressions.”

Toward this goal, SunShower Learning is proud to partner with Dr. Sue, and present our new program, Disarming Microaggressions. In the course, Dr. Sue emphasizes that everyone is at risk of saying or doing something offensive because we all have biases that are outside of our conscious awareness. So, even well-intentioned people can say something that turns into an unintentional expression of bias.

 

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