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Analysis of Meaning of Microaggression

Recently, there have been extensive attempts made in the US to get rid of the inequality and discrimination in the different life spheres. Nevertheless, microaggressions persist, with thousands of people experiencing them on a daily basis in coffee shops, school, the workplace, and other places. The articles discussed in this essay, however, focus on the microaggressions experienced by minorities in the hospital environment. In “Unconscious Biases: Racial Microaggressions in American Indian Health Care,” Walls et al. (2015) examine the examples of the injustices reported by American Indian adults with type 2 diabetes. Cruz et al. discuss the psychometric properties of microaggressions in “Perceived microaggressions in health care: A measurement study” (2019). Lastly, Ehie et al. review the reasons behind microaggressions, as well as the possible solutions, in “Professionalism: Microaggression in the healthcare setting” (2021). The following essay reflects on these sources and emphasizes the importance of addressing microaggressions.

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As mentioned above, microaggressions are not always obvious to a naked eye. Therefore, it is vital to listen to the experiences of minorities and take note of the things that might be offensive to them. According to Ehiea et al. (2021), there are three types of microaggression – microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. The first type consists of discriminatorily charged verbal abuse, such as referring to someone as “you people” in a derogatory way (Ehie, et al., 2021). Microinsults refer to disparaging and insensitive comments, such as “You are a doctor? You look like a teenager” (Ehie, et al., 2021, p. 132). Lastly, microinvalidations are dismissive and exclusive practices, such as the “All Lives Matter” movement, according to Ehie et al. (2021). What all three categories have in common is the resulting disrespect and devaluation of the recipient of microaggression. Although some of the comments and practices might seem innocent, and can even be non-malicious in intent, they are based on unconscious biases and can be harmful or hurtful.

Since the issue of microaggression has come to light, there have been numerous studies that focus on obtaining statistical data on the experiences of the minorities. According to Walls et al. over a third of the participants of their study have experienced microaggressions in their interactions with health providers (2015). Although this study considered a relatively narrow demographic, it is a big percentage for any measurement, and the problem is evident. Further studies suggest that these microaggressions extend to African Americans and Latinos and result in damaging consequences for the recipients of the microaggressions (Cruz, et al., 2019). Some of the reasons listed include potential risk of depression and anxiety as a result of the stress from discrimination (Cruz, et al. 2019). Furthermore, there are speculations discussed in Cruz, et al.’s study (2019) about the microaggressions acting as barriers to improving quality of life by obtaining a higher education or a higher-paying job. These issues, while often dismissed as simply harmless comments, are therefore serious injustices with harmful consequences.

Overall, as can be seen from this essay, microaggressions can be damaging and yet are preventable. It is vital to not be a passive bystander but even more important to reflect on one’s actions. Sometimes the internal biases can be difficult to detect and yet recognizing being a part of the problem is essential solving it. Some of the potential solutions as described by Ehie et al. (2021) also include creating institutional accountability. Microaggressions are the last frontier to equality, and it is necessary to spread awareness for the scope of the problem, how to recognize it, and ways to prevent it.


Cruz, D., Rodriguez, Y. & Mastropaolo, C. (2019). Perceived microaggressions in health care: A measurement study. PLoS ONE, 14(2), 1-11. Web.

Ehie, O., Muse, I., Hill, L. & Bastien, A. (2021). Professionalism: microaggression in the healthcare setting. Current Opinion Anesthesiology, 34(2), 131-136. DOI:10.1097

Walls, M. L., Gonzalez, J., Gladney, T. & Onello, E. (2015). Unconscious Biases: Racial Microaggressions in American Indian Health Care. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 28(2), 231-239. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140194

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