Facts Microaggressions

A microaggression is a subtle degrading behavior in words, actions, or attitudes toward people who are discriminated against.

It is often disguised as humor or compliments but is experienced as threatening, violating, or distancing by the people who are subjected to it. The behavior can seem harmless in the eyes of the observer, but for the person who is subjected, microaggressions are exhausting and stressful. A microaggression assumes that everything that deviates from the norm is exotic or worse, which generates questioning, theatrics, and comments. Research that has been done on microaggressions see them as a sort of “hidden” discrimination. Everyday racism is an example of a microaggression.

Something extremely tiring for those people who are subjected to microaggressions is that they often have to deal with them through humor, pretend that they do not understand, or need to accept that type of treatment because it often sneaks in like a jargon and is normalized. If you notice a microaggression, instead of expecting that the person who is affected will stand up for themselves, be an ally and question the behavior. Even if you perceive that the witnesses of the microaggression are not personally affected by the content of the microaggression, question it anyway! Being silent normalizes the jargon, and you can never know what perspectives there are in the group!

Examples of different microaggressions:

  • When someone speaks louder to a person with a disability. This can be perceived as degrading because a disability is not synonymous with poor hearing or difficulty understanding. 
  • When a homosexual couple is asked who the “man” is in the relationship and who the “woman” is in the relationship. 
  • When a Swedish person who is racialized as non-white gets the question where they come from, or when their name is mispronounced. 
  • When someone jokes about how girls are sensitive.
  • When someone hints at or jokes about a racist stereotype, for example that women from the Middle East are oppressed or that non-white people are undereducated. 

How can racism be expressed on the internet

Aisha Ali talks about microaggressions, exotification, and how it feels to be racialized on the internet.

Tired of no one understanding the problem?

Use our micro activism posters! Send it anonymously, hang it up in the coffee room, or spread it on your social media. Microaggressions are real!