Microagressions Can Be as Harmful as Insults


Dr. Jeremy Levitt, Dean and Vice Chancellor’s Chair at the University of New Brunswick College of Law focuses much of his research on the politics of race. Dr. Jeremy Levitt understands the negative effects of colorblind racism, such as communicative “microagressions.” Understanding microagressions can help us progress towards a more tolerant society.

Microagressions, according to Carola Suarez-Orozco, professor at the University of California Los Angeles, are small statements in speech that insult or denigrate a person based on their group membership, like their race or gender. These messages are a result of inequitable power dynamics in a culture, used to put down a minority group.

Those who use microagressions typically do not intend for them to be hurtful; however, even the smallest microagression can eventually erode a person’s confidence. These messages include asking a person “where are you from?” Or “What are you?” rather than asking them about their ethnicity. Though on the surface these questions seem harmless, they may imply that the other person does not belong here or that they are not human.

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