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Microaggressions and Methods of Countering Them


Microaggressions are the forms of passive sub-conscious racism and sexism manifestation. Many people use them and do not understand either the fact of using them or the implications they have. Microaggressions not only express disrespect and fuel tensions between different social and gender groups but also solidify the stereotypes and do not let the society break free of false norms of behavior. In addition, it can affect the psychological health and wellbeing of a person (Wong, Derthick, David, Saw, & Okazaki, 2014). Therefore, such practices should be eliminated, and certain practices could help this goal be achieved.

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Microaggression Reinforcement Scenarios

A typical manifestation of microaggression is people expressively clutching their bags and purses passing a black man on the street. This sends a message that a person holds prejudice against blacks because he or she believes they are all thieves and cannot be trusted. This is a passive, non-verbalized yet very offensive expression of racism. Gender-specific microaggressions may be exemplified by the situation when a female physician with a stethoscope is being constantly mistaken for a nurse. The implied sense here is that women are incapable of performing at high-responsibility jobs and are better suited for low-paying and subordinate professions.

There are a number of situations such as those mentioned above and the everyday occurrences, practices, trends, and policies reinforce that kind of behavior. One of the most important factors that contribute to the spread of microaggressive actions is the low level of resistance and practical countermeasures. When people of the vulnerable or mistreated group face microaggression, they often do not react. This is a mistake that lets the oppressors continue their racist practices. It is paramount to note here that some people do not acknowledge their behavior as offensive to others. In these cases, it becomes even more important to raise their awareness of the effects of their words and actions.

Another practice that might fuel microaggression is the methods of teaching history. History is often revolved around male achievements, kings, warlords, politicians, scientists, and so on. All of the key historical figures whose influence is emphasized are male. This gives a reason to believe that it is assumed normal in the present society that men have the dominant position in the same areas because they are historically occupied by men. This situation provides more ground for involuntary microaggression through education. The systematic creation of values that favor one or another group is referred to as macro-level social stratification (Keith, Nguyen, Taylor, Mouzon, & Chatters, 2017). The same situation occurs with racial prejudice. The same patterns of formation that are applied to women downgrade people of color by negating their historical impact on the formation of the society that we live in now.

Verbalized abuse also contributes to strengthening microaggression (Keith et al., 2017). By producing jokes, calling other people names associated with their skin color or features that are often attributed to the representatives of a particular race people establish a ground for a deeper level of insult and segregation.

The domination of white males in U.S. politics also contributes to segregation and fuels microaggression. Since most policymakers represent a specific gender and race, it empowers the representatives of that gender and race and makes them feel entitled to more than other social groups creating White privilege.

Family parenting could also have a significant impact on the formation of microaggressive behavior. It may be the case that parents who are not familiar with the problem can unwittingly communicate such practices during upbringing because they are unaware of the fact of their offensive capacity. According to Nadal, Sriken, Davidoff, Wong, & McLean (2013), members of multiracial families are often under pressure and become the target of domestic microaggression. The questions of race and identity in these families are proved to be particularly sensitive and could result in isolation, authenticity questions, and inadequacy of knowledge about the racial origin (Nadal et al., 2013).

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Methods to Counter Microaggression

Given the grim state of society in regard to inequality and the spread of racism and sexism in many forms, it is becoming paramount to develop and implement strategies to combat microaggression. One of the methods is raising awareness of the phenomenon. The research in the area of discrimination, verbal and non-verbal types of abuse is actively conducted. However, the results of the research are seldom known to the general public. In addition, the power of social media and political resources could be used more extensively to provide wide coverage of the problem to as many people as possible. It would also help the cause of minimizing the impact of microaggression and its incidence if the issue is raised to the international level. As such, the activities of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) could be given more attention in the UN hearings. This measure could be considered out of reach of the average person, but a united voice of the oppressed and the attention of media could promote its popularity.

Additionally, the fact that not many people chose to confront microaggression in their daily lives also states the necessity for individual action. Each person who recognized another person’s actions or words as microaggression should in a non-offensive and polite way inform him or her that such behavior is insulting. It does not matter if the offender is a relative, a friend, or a stranger because the spread of the problem is in everyone’s hands to prevent. The more people are informed about the fact that such action or phrase is a manifestation of microaggression, the less desirable it would produce to use them.

Another measure to combat microaggression is related to the changing of the environment in which they could happen. One of such interventions could be the adaptation of organizational codes of ethics (Prieto, Norman, Phipps, & Chenault, 2016). Introduction of the term and demonstration of typical examples could be a helpful strategy to implement at the workplace to decrease discrimination. Such a measure would also allow people to think about their behavior outside the work environment, which will raise their awareness of the issue. Also, Prieto et al. (2016) suggest training sessions with staff as an effective intervention that helps prevent the incidence of microaggression. They specify that addressing staff’s behavior could be troublesome because many do not acknowledge it as a problem (Prieto et al., 2016). In this case, professional counseling sessions could be advised.


All things considered, microaggression is a serious social issue that undermines the capacity of minorities to lead normal lives free of discrimination, sexism, and racism. A variety of situations contribute to fueling the oppressive behavior in people including family upbringing incidents, education practices, political and media underrepresentation, and issues of daily abuse. Therefore, it is paramount to combat microaggression by raising global awareness of the issue, improving fair and equal representation, and creating environments where this phenomenon is non-existent.


Keith, V. M., Nguyen, A. W., Taylor, R. J., Mouzon, D. M., & Chatters, L. M. (2017). Microaggressions, discrimination, and phenotype among African Americans: A latent class analysis of the impact of skin tone and BMI. Sociological Inquiry, 87(2), 233-255.

Nadal, K. L., Sriken, J., Davidoff, K. C., Wong, Y., & McLean, K. (2013). Microaggressions within families: Experiences of multiracial people. Family Relations, 62(1), 190-201.

Prieto, L. C., Norman, M. V., Phipps, S. T., & Chenault, E. B. (2016). Tackling micro-aggressions in organizations: A broken windows approach. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 13(3), 36-49.

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Wong, G., Derthick, A. O., David, E. J. R., Saw, A., & Okazaki, S. (2014). The what, the why, and the how: A review of racial microaggressions research in psychology. Race and Social Problems, 6(2), 181-200.

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"Microaggressions and Methods of Countering Them." StudyCorgi, 19 Jan. 2022,

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StudyCorgi. "Microaggressions and Methods of Countering Them." January 19, 2022.


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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Microaggressions and Methods of Countering Them'. 19 January.

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