The world is full of big problems. Those are the ones it’s easier to focus on – because they’re black and white, in a world of grey areas. When it comes to topics like diversity, equality, and inclusion, our attention is drawn to the most serious issues, because their impact can be devastating. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the smaller problems – like microaggressions. Because they build up.
What are microaggressions?Microaggressions describe things that people say or do, that are either accidentally or purposefully offensive – often related to some negative stereotype about a certain identity group. Sexist and racial microaggressions are particularly common. Microaggressions are, quite literally, one of the smaller problems that marginalized groups face. But, unlike the headline-making discrimination that happens less frequently, the thing about microaggressions is that they come thick and fast. And however mild, being faced with hostile, derogatory, or negative comments about anything from your sexual orientation to your ethnicity is never pleasant.
Microaggressions: list of types
- Microassaults: this involves remarks designed to belittle a disadvantaged group, from using discriminatory language, mocking people for their characteristics or behaviours, or anything that implies they are inferior
- Microinsults: this involves remarks that imply the individual in question is ‘the exception to the rule’, in comparison to their identity group or demographic – sometimes misguidedly intended as a compliment
- Microinvalidations: this involves remarks that diminish the experiences of disadvantaged groups, by downplaying or completely ignoring the impact that discrimination has had on their life