Microaggressions in the Classroom: Manifestation, Dynamics and Impact
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Microaggressions in the Classroom: Manifestation, Dynamics and Impact

[music] [pause] [pause]>>SUE: Thank you Jeanne for that introduction. What I am going to be talking about today
is a combining all of the research that we have been doing on microaggressions, and what
I call difficult dialogues in the classroom that deal with topics like race, gender, sexual
orientation, and other areas where we talk about groups that are marginalized in our
society. What I really want to show – I’m sorry the
color on this. I’m not sure why it’s translating in this way, but the color is really off on
this, but the book by which – and Jeff Neal is out in the audience. He knows I’m shameless
in terms of putting up my books for people to look at. But, the book that would really
most give you an idea of the area of microaggressions falls in this, Microaggressions in Everyday
Life. The book is on your far right, and on the left is – in fact, I can’t even read
it at this point – but, it’s Microaggressions and Marginality, which is an edited book that
talks about how microaggressions can be applied and that any marginalized or socially devalued
group in our society can experience microaggressions. The book on the center deals with microaggressions,
but talks about it in terms of mental health and clinical types of endeavors and work.
[Referring to Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice] What I would like to do is outline what I
see as the major problem in classroom teaching on topics of race, gender, ethnicities, sexual
orientation, come to the forefront. Honest discussions about race and racism in the classroom
– among teachers, between students, among individuals – is a very difficult process
and dynamic. What we find is that people get very anxious when they have to talk about
issues and deal with racism/gender/sexism/heterosexism. These are all things that push buttons in
people so that the classroom dynamics, when issues of these occur, tend to be haphazard
in many respects. Racial dialogues in the classroom – one
of the greatest fears that teachers have is that racial dialogues in the classroom will
produce antagonism and conflict, between either the teacher and the students or among students
themselves, and as a result, they try to dampen it down. When a topic of race/sexual orientation occurs,
and the dynamics become heated, many teachers tend to try to cut off the dialogue, in any
number of different ways; either telling the students that we have to talk to each other
respectfully, that we should talk about this outside – come into my office to do it – but
there is an attempt and a fear to somehow dampen down the dialogue on a difficult dialogue
such as this, before it gets out of control. And, this leads me to the second major fear
that we find teachers experiencing, that makes them avoid talking about these topics. The
fear is that they will lose control of the classroom dynamics, and it will become the
“classroom from hell,” where students march out, to the principal, demanding that the
teacher be fired, or to the dean in higher education. This is really one of the greatest
fears that educators have; that every classroom that deals with a topic like this, that it
will become the “classroom from hell,” and the teacher will lose control; and, as a result,
feel very badly about this particular situation. One thing that we find is that, in our studies,
it is not that teachers are to be blamed for not being able to facilitate a difficult dialogue
on race. What they are fearful of is that they want to do well. They want to facilitate
the dialogue so that it is a learning lesson for the students, but they are paralyzed because
they do not know what to do. And, I think that all of us, who have gone through education,
schooling, know that teachers are ill-equipped to deal with the emotive aspects in the classroom
dynamics. In fact, we’re taught, often times, that teaching is a matter of a cognitive development,
inquiry, mastery of content, and, in some sense, when you deal with a sensitive topic
like race/gender/sexual orientation, the teacher, fairly or not, has to be someone who understands
process, and almost has to play the role of being a group therapist, because that is the
dynamic that is occurring among the students. And, unless you’re able to deal sufficiently
with the emotional aspects of this, it becomes a very difficult task. In general, many teachers try to avoid or
cut off dialogues on race, gender, and sexual orientation, but the silence, or the avoidance
of the topic, leaves what I call the “elephant in the room” that no one acknowledges or wants
to talk about. And, it can hang in the classroom and create a number of difficult obstacles
to future learning that will be going on. Studies reveal that these unspoken differences
and conflicts tend to create a hostile, invalidating, climate for not only students of color, and
we’re talking about racial microaggressions, but also White students as well. And, that’s
an area that a colleague of mine, Lisa Spanierman, is exploring, about how racism, or how many
of these discriminatory acts tend to have equal down effects upon White students, or
White participants, in the work here. What are the harms that we have found that
– first of all, let me say that, if we talk about racial microaggressions, our studies
indicate, when we watch these dynamics in the classroom, that almost all difficult dialogues
on race occur because a microaggression has occurred in the classroom. Whether it is a
curriculum that portrays certain groups in negative fashion, students of color get upset
about it; whether the teacher, unknowingly makes a microaggression; or, when other students
in the classroom make a microaggression, it tends to create the difficulty that is going
on. And, avoiding them, or handling them poorly, creates a lot of psychological consequences
to students of color. These studies, what I’m going to show you,
is that racial microaggression in the classroom, if not facilitated well, will assail the mental
health of the recipients. In one of the major studies that we conducted, at Teacher’s College,
we found frustration, anger, depression and anxiety, all the results that many students
of color experienced if the teacher was unable to actually acknowledge and facilitate the
difficult dialogue. They create a hostile and invalidating campus climate. This has been shown to be really detrimental.
That the campus climate, for many students of color – whether in elementary, secondary,
high school, institutions of higher education – the classroom climate, and the campus itself,
can be hostile to the group identities of those people who are feeling assailed or attacked
in one way or another. It perpetuates stereotype threat. The studies
that Claude Steele and many others have done on stereotype threat indicate the detrimental
consequences, by lowering educational productivity, and learning, and experience, or functioning. They interfere with classroom learning. Microaggressions
have major consequences. When you, as a student of color, are feeling invalidated, invisible,
assailed – your identity is assailed – you are expending considerable psychological energy
into protecting yourself; into constantly reaffirming yourself that “I’m ok;” and having
to ward that off. When that happens, there is little psychological energy left for learning
and productivity in the classroom. And, we found that it interferes. Likewise, if you look at the impact, we’re
not just talking about psychological effects. Studies are beginning to indicate that racial
microaggressions tend to create detrimental physical consequences, or health consequences,
for individuals of color. And, you can look at a number of studies, even in adulthood,
where racism, for many African Americans – high blood pressure, lower life expectancy, all
of these things, are the results of the constant bombardment of racial microaggressions I’ll
soon define. It lowers productivity. The work by Jack Dovidio,
at Yale now, really is central to showing that individuals, employees of color, who
experience a hostile, invalidating work climate, who are victimized by microaggressions that
are invisible to perpetrators, that their work productivity decreases drastically. Another effect is that, often times what happens,
is that these benign slights of racial microaggressions have detrimental consequences to people. That,
far from being benign, in fact, in 2007, when my colleagues and I, former students and I,
on a research team published the first taxonomy of microaggressions in everyday life, we received
letters. And some of you may have read the responses in the American Psychologist, saying
that we were building a mountain out of a molehill; that these were minor slights; they
don’t have detrimental impact. And, our response is that you don’t realize that microaggressions
are cumulative. They occur day in and day out, to individuals of color, to women, to
LGBT individuals, from the moment of birth. These microaggressions occur. And, they are
symbolic of the second class status that marginalized groups in our society have. And, that’s the
thought that’s really important that all of us realize. That microaggressions remind Asian
Americans of the incarceration of Japanese Americans; remind African Americans about
their enslavement; remind indigenous peoples of this country of how land was taken away
from them, and their status in our society. Fortunately, a number people are doing studies
on the impact of microaggressions. What we call “everyday slights” and “put downs” that
our White brothers and sisters experience, they are far different. They are much more
powerful and detrimental than the everyday experiences that our White brothers and sisters
experience in their day to day functioning. Now, this is something that I wanted to say,
that Lisa Spanierman also talked about, is that microaggressions in the classroom also
have harm, although very invisible, to White students and White folks as well. This is
a point that is lost, frequently, in the conversation. We ask people to change, for the benefit,
so the harm isn’t attributed just to people of color. But, in essence, we have, in some
sense, harm from racism/racial microaggression/sexism/homophobia, all of these have detrimental consequences
to the majority group population as well. And, some of the findings that have come out
is that it lowers empathic ability. The person who perpetuates or delivers a microaggression
doesn’t have empathic ability when someone says, “I found that offensive.” “Well, that was such a small thing. What are
you so upset about?” [unclear] You know, the empathic ability is not there. It also dims perceptual awareness; because,
as I’ve written before, one of the greatest tasks that we, as psychologists, have is to
make the invisible visible. Microaggressions, when you commit a subtle act of racism in
one form or another, it is outside of your level of awareness. And, this is something
that I am going to be talking about very shortly; that, indeed, what is the greatest obstacle
for us to move together in dealing with these disparities, is the fact that most people
who deliver microaggressions experience themselves as good, moral, decent human beings, who would
never discriminate against others. They are unaware that they are delivering microaggressions
in one form or another. So, the perceptual awareness is not there. And, as long as you
never correct it, that will increase, in terms of being perceptually unaware of what is going
on. It maintains what I call a “false illusion.”
You know? Many of you, and we can talk about… why is the worldview, if we talk about racism,
why is the worldview of White Americans so different from the worldview of people of
color? There are differences between them. And part of it is that people who experience
discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping, who are on the receiving end of microaggressions,
see it, but the perpetrators, because of their worldview, don’t see it. In fact, that is
one of the ironies of microaggressions, that on the surface they appear like compliments. You know, when I’m complimented, “Derald,
you know you speak excellent English,” the perpetrator isn’t meaning to insult me, they
think that they are complimenting me, [unclear] but they don’t realize that they have delivered
a microaggression with a hidden message; and that message is that you are a perpetual alien
in your own country. You are not a true American. These might seem on the surface, and when
you raise it with an individual, what do they come back with? “What an oversensitive person
this is.” So, the reaction becomes pathologized, and represents another form of microaggression,
because you are imposing. The perpetrator imposes their racial reality upon the less
powerful individual or group that is going on. That’s where the pain and difficulty begins
to occur. It lessens compassion for others. That is
one of the things that happens. Microaggressions lesson compassion for others. “You don’t”,
you know, “big deal.” You know, “you just don’t feel that way,” in one way or another.
In other words, microaggressions, unless they are dealt with adequately as a learning opportunity
in the classroom, tend to continue the false illusion that all people are well intentioned
and do not harm others; that real racists are skinheads; that they aren’t good decent
human beings like you and I. And, that is one of the things that I want to really concentrate
on. Here are some examples that I’d like to give
you of racial microaggressions: A White female student on the school grounds
clutches her backpack tightly as a Black or Latina student passes her. The hidden message
that is communicated here, nonverbally, is that you and your group are criminals. Another example: An Asian American student, like I was saying,
for Asian Americans who know that this happens to you all the time, that you are complimented
for speaking good English, and the hidden message is that you’re a perpetual foreigner
in your own country; that you are not a true American. Let’s look at gender microaggressions that
occur here: Labeling- and this happens – labeling an assertive
female principal as a “bitch,” while describing a male counterpart as a “forceful leader.”
Again, what we have here is the hidden message that women should be passive and allow men,
that men are the people who make the decisions. There are other implications in the hidden
message as well: A teacher in class tends to call on male students
more frequently than female students. Well, interestingly enough, studies indicate that
female teachers do the very same thing. Now what happens, and this is where female students
at all levels of education may not be aware, they soak in, that the opinions/the thoughts
of male students are more valued than that of the female students. And this goes on throughout
life. This is the communication that is going on, and it isn’t necessarily that as a female
in this society you’re aware of it; “well, that’s what’s going on.” You soak it in, it
becomes culturally conditioned, and you may begin to believe, in fact, that you are not
as good as your male counterpart in certain aspects of functioning in life. Microaggression example: Sexual orientation
microaggressions: This is so common in school settings where
other students describe another student’s behavior or them as “that’s so gay.” And,
the equation here is that to be “gay” is to be weird/deviant/pathological; there is something
wrong with being gay. And this occurs all the time in terms of conversations. Now, this is an interesting example. A lesbian
student reluctantly discloses to a close girlfriend that she is “into girls” and not boys. Trying
to reassure her that her sexual orientation was okay, the friend indicates she was not
shocked because she once had a male friend who was, quote, into dogs, end quote. Now
there is an equation going on here that same sex attraction is abnormal, is like bestiality.
The comparison here is really very damaging. Let’s talk about another. Disability microaggressions: A blind student reports that fellow students
often come up to him and speak very loudly. In fact, the director of our disabilities
center, Dr. Richard Keller, uses this example all the time; that when people come up to
him – meet him for the first time – they’ll step forward and say “GOOD MORNING DR. KELLER.
HOW ARE YOU?” And, what Richard says simply is that “I can hear perfectly well; thank
you.” The assumption here is that one disability like this affects the overall individual in
terms of their everyday functioning. And the second one that happens often times
is a teacher who uses baby talk with a student in a wheelchair. And, the hidden message is
that they are undeveloped/infantilized [unclear]/they’re infants in one way or another. Now let me talk about six basic assumptions.
I’m going to try to go through this quickly because I don’t want to run out of time. The reason that we need to understand the
functioning of microaggressions is based upon – I wouldn’t even say they are assumptions.
They are really basic social, psychological findings that have occurred. And one of them
is that all of us have been socialized into a society in which there exists individual,
institutional, and societal biases associated with race/gender/sexual orientation. Some
people might argue that point. But, if we talk about, for example, racism, the history
of the United States is the history of racism. In all fairness, it would be to deny a historical
reality to say that isn’t so. Now, we also have to counterbalance that by saying, “Yes,
the history of the United States has also been the history of antiracism. But what I
am trying to say is that from the moment of birth, all of us are socialized; individually,
in a group level, in a societal level in which we inherit these biases. Some of them we’re
aware of, but the most dangerous ones are those in which they are outside the level
of our conscious awareness. And the second assumption I make is that none
of us are immune from inheriting the biases of our ancestors, institutions, our culture,
and society. To believe that I have been born and raised in this country, for some nearly
seventy year now, and to claim that I have never inherited any of these biases, to me
is the height of arrogance or naïveté. All of us have soaked up biases, and I know
that is frightening for us to see that because, on a conscious level, we’re taught equality;
to be good; that we don’t discriminate. And that conscious training and teaching that
we get are at odds with what really happens on another subtle level in terms of how biases
are communicated to us. And it’s that perception of ourselves as good, decent, moral individuals
that doesn’t allow us to acknowledge our biases; because to acknowledge our biases, frighteningly,
assails the self-image that we have as good, moral, individuals. The third thing that I want to point out is
that it is not what I call “old-fashioned” racism, sexism, or heterosexism that is most
harmful to people of color, to women, and to LGBT populations, but the contemporary
forms I call “microaggressions,” or what Jack Dovidio would call “aversive racism,” in one
way or another. Now, to strike this fact home, I want you to think that ordinary folks, when
they think about racism, they think about the White supremacists, the clan member, the
skinheads. They don’t think about everyday individuals like you and me. Now, look at these particular statistics I
want to share with you here, and ask you the question, “Are these due to ‘old fashioned’
racism, or contemporary forms of racism?” White Euro-American males are only 33% of
the population. They occupy, however, 80% of tenured positions in higher education.
They are about 80% of the House of Representatives. Over the past few years, they vary considerable,
but they are about 80%-90% of the U.S. Senate. They are 92% of the Forbes 400 Executive CEO
level positions. They are 90% of public school superintendents, in a profession that is predominately
women! Even more astonishing, 99.9% of athletic team owners, and they are now 97.73% of U.S.
Presidents. So, the questions that I really would ask
you now, should be many. Are these due to “old fashioned” racism, or due to subtle microaggressions
that impact what is going on? Other questions you should be asking are, “Where are the women?
Where are the people of color?” And, I am trying to say is that these are not due to
the White supremacists/the clans, they are due to ordinary people like you and I, who
go to voting booths, who determine who we’re going to hire, who teach our young kids, they
are you and me in terms of what is going on here, rather than talking about that they
were due to the overt racists in our society. The fourth characteristic is that these characteristics
that form microaggressions are, in some sense, invisible, unintentional, subtle in nature,
and usually outside the level of conscious awareness. This represents the second nature barrier
to change; that you are not aware of delivering a microaggression. When someone tries to point
it out to you, and confront you about it, our immediate reaction is defensiveness. “I
never intended that. You are misreading what’s going on.” We don’t explore, because it is
so out. The cab driver who compliments me on speaking good English, if I was to bring
that up to him, he’d probably go away thinking, “There is something wrong with this individual.
Here, I’m complimenting him and he’s getting upset with me. How dare he.” I mean, that
would be the element that would go on here. And the second obstacle, besides the invisibility
issue here, is the fact of our own self-image. When a hate crime occurs, I would say all
of us in this room would stand up and denounce it. Yet, we are unaware of our own biases
that perpetuate and continue to go on. Racial, gender, and sexual orientation microaggressions
create psychological dilemmas for both the perpetrator and the recipient because they
represent a clash of racial, gender, and sexual orientation realities. I don’t have time to
talk about this, but when I talked about worldviews and racial reality, most people, when we talk
about power, we try to say that power is economic might/military might; we talk about this.
Power really, in my thinking, is in a group’s ability to define reality. Attorneys know this to be true. If you can
convince a jury of a reality that you’re trying to create, the decisions that come out will
support your client. And, so, if you say that that was not due to racism or bias, you have,
in some sense, had the power to impose a reality upon less powerful groups that is going on. The sixth one is that we know now that microaggressions
create hostile, invalidating climates that delete or deplete psychological energies,
and they not only affect individuals on an individual level, but they create disparities
in employment, health care, and education. And, because it occurs so frequently, it is
very powerful. Let me now – we’ve been talking about microaggressions
– what are they? Well, microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral,
or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile,
derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults, and potentially have a harmful impact
or unpleasant psychological impact on the target person or group. Microaggressions tend to be subtle, stunning,
often automatic exchanges, which are “put downs,” that are racial, gender, or sexual
orientation put downs. They occur very quickly. In fact they occur sometimes so quickly that
the recipient doesn’t even have time to respond adequately to it. And that’s been one of the
findings that we’ve come up with. They occur and they represent put downs in one way or
another. Women, in the world of business, first referred
to this as “microinequities,” where they describe the pattern of their male colleagues as “overlooking
them.” That they are invisible, they are disrespected, and it seems like their comments are viewed
less positively or favorably. In the work that we did with several Fortune 400 companies
like DuPont and Proctor and Gamble, women managers would say that, often times, they
would say something in a team meeting, and the person running the meeting would not even
acknowledge it. The moment that John, a male colleague, said the same thing, the CEO or
a chair would say, “Excellent comment, John, let’s run with that.” And, in one way or another,
indicating that, indeed, the women managers were invisible. Now what do you think the
psychological impact is? The communication being, “You’re worthless. You’re invisible.
You’re only here to fulfill a quota. So just sit there nicely, and let us men do the talking,
and handling of the situation.” These are forms of microaggressions that are very damaging
in one way or another. Now, racial microaggressions are pervasive,
they are common, and they occur frequently. In a classroom from Teachers College, where
many of my White colleagues have come to me and said that they couldn’t understand a particular
dynamic that went on in class. A White professor talked about how he complimented a male African
American student for being so articulate and bright in expressing his viewpoint, could
not [understand]. He was complimenting a Black student. “Why was a Black student getting
so upset?” And, most of us would say, “Well, why is a Black student getting upset?” Remember Joe Biden, when he ran for the Presidential
primaries, the first Democratic one, was asked about the Barack Obama phenomena. His comment
was that, “Well, you have for the first time, a bright, articulate, clean looking, Black
man, who is good looking.” I mean that’s a storybook man. He could not understand why
the Black community was outraged by that statement because, what is being communicated here is
that, as a Black student, I’m complimenting you, because you are an exception. You are
so unlike all the other Blacks, who are usually not clean looking, they’re dirty, unintelligent.
You know that’s the message that occurs, and to deconstruct microaggressions is very difficult
for individuals to do because they have different nuances that occur here. There are several psychological dynamics of
microaggressions that we can talk about, but I am going to go over them very briefly. In
our studies, what we find is that there are four psychological dynamics that students
of color tend to experience when a microaggression occurs in the classroom. This is not just
limited to students of color in the classroom; and, I’m now talking about racial microaggression. They represent a class of racial realities.
Students of color see it as a microaggression. White students, or the White professor doesn’t.
Whose reality is a real reality? Unfortunately, the answer to that is that the group that
has the power to impose that reality generally wins out. The invisibility of bias. Students of color
are placed in an unenviable position, because the bias is invisible to everyone around,
except for the students of color. And, how do they prove it? How do they prove that a
microaggression has just occurred? It’s a very difficult thing. Perceived minimal harm. “Even if I insulted
you, let go of it, Derald. It’s such a trivial, minimal type of situation.” And, again, it’s
trivializing something that has a great deal of pain. And the Catch-22. The Catch-22 being that,
in fact, this happened to me on a plane trip; I confronted a flight attendant about her
seating an African American female colleague and I, asking us to move to the back of the
plane. This was a small plane that I wrote about. It’s a plane in which one side has
two seats and the other has one row of seats. We were the first to come in to begin with,
but after passengers loaded, the flight attendant asked my colleague and I if we would mind
moving to the back of the plane in order to balance the weight, because everyone sat in
the front. Well, after we moved, I became agitated, and
when the flight attendant came to check the overhead compartments, I came out and said
to her, “Do you realize you asked two passengers of color to move to the back of the bus?”
She was horrified. Well, I could go into a long story about that
but what I learned from this encounter was this, that my Black colleague did not support
me. She sat there and laughed throughout as the exchange occurred between the flight attendant
and me, and it got heated. But when she left, I turned to her and said, “Why didn’t you
come support what I was saying?” Because she believed it was a microaggression as well.
You know what she said to me? “Derald, it just feels so good not to be the angry Black
woman.” Now, what she was saying to me is that, as
a Black woman, when she raises these issues up with a perpetrator, she’s dismissed as
being an angry Black woman. And that is a Catch-22. You’re damned if you do, and damned
if you don’t. If you sit there and take it, you stew. If I would have sat there and not
have raised this issue, I would have, in some sense, assailed myself. “What a coward you
are. You teach about microaggressions, about what needs to be done. Here you’re seated
and not doing anything about it.” It would have eaten away at me. My blood pressure would
have risen. But, likely, when I raised the issue with the flight attendant, she probably
thought, “What an oversensitive, paranoid, Asian passenger I have here. So you’re damned
if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t, in terms of the Catch-22 that goes here. I’m going to not elaborate on these four psychological
dynamics because I want to really talk about how bias this – and I’ll read to you that
bias, microaggressions that come out, are transmitted to us through the socialization
we receive from parents, through the education or mis-education, you might say. For example,
being taught that Columbus discovered America, while Native American students say. “How can
we be discovered? We weren’t lost. We knew where we were,” to the policies in institutions. Now, let me read to you an observation that
I made one time of a group of mothers who took their children out to the playground,
just to indicate to you how the process of transmission occurs. It was a late summer afternoon. A group of
White neighborhood mothers, obviously friends, had brought their four and five-year-olds
to the local McDonald’s for a snack and to play on the swings and slides provided by
the restaurant. They were all seated at the table watching their sons and daughters run
about the play area. In one corner of the yard sat a small Black child pushing a red
truck along the grass. One of the White girls from the group approached the Black boy and
they started a conversation. During that instant, the mother of the girl exchanged quick glances
with the other mothers who nodded knowingly. She quickly rose from the table, walked over
to the two, spoke to her daughter, and gently pulled her away to join her previous playmates.
Within minutes, however, the girl again approached the Black boy and both began to play with
the truck. At that point, all the mothers rose from the table and loudly exclaimed to
their children, “It’s time to go now!” Now, I would say that if you talked to these
mothers they would be the nicest individuals who would talk about democracy, equal treatment,
equal access, you don’t discriminate, you don’t prejudice, but in terms of what they
just did, it was a powerful message to their daughters about certain groups are not right
to associate with, they are lesser, avoid them. That is the message. It is very powerful
in terms of how we raise our children. I have some other examples, but what I’d like
to do is talk about how we overcome microaggression in terms of our upbringing. And, we’ve come
up with a series of principles. One of the principles is to learn about people of color.
If we talk about racial bias, learn about people of color from sources within the group. Students must first experience and learn from
as many sources as possible. The media, or your neighbors, or those groups you associate
with are not necessarily the best situations to put your children in if you really want
them to begin to learn about people from other groups. Information from White individuals, who themselves
are unaware of white bias and how it is transmitted, is not the way to educate children. So, associating
with groups of color, or people who differ from you, and finding out their worldview
can act as a counterbalance, and this has to occur. Not just in pre-k through 12, or
higher. I’m saying that we have to do it – mothers, fathers, parents – have to do it from the
beginning of their upbringing in life. Principle two is “Learn From Healthy and Strong
People of the Culture”. A balanced picture of racial/ethnic minority groups requires
that students spend time with healthy people and strong people of that culture. We don’t
do this. It doesn’t matter whether you have an integrated classroom or not, because in
education or in employment, when you’re with other individuals you don’t really get to
know one another. You don’t socialize together. You don’t do things together. So, I would
say that teachers should have plans to expose their groups to strong, healthy individuals
of the group that they are hoping to understand, in one way or another. Principle number three: “Learn From Experiential
Reality. Bias, prejudice, stereotyping is not simply a cognitive exercise. You have
to experience. Experiential reality is really an all important thing. At Teachers College, when I run the multicultural
counseling class, I ask students, “How many of you live in an integrated neighborhood?”
And a lot of hands come up because despite what Columbia wants you to believe, Columbia
is in Harlem, not in Morningside Heights. It’s in Harlem, and the less expensive apartments
that students get it’s in Harlem. And so they raise their hands like it’s a badge of honor
and courage, and, “I live in an integrated neighborhood.” And I then follow up with this
question, with this statement: “There’s a difference between living in Harlem and how
you live in Harlem.” I mean that’s all important, because most of the students who live in Harlem,
their whole orientation is not Harlem; it is the campus or downtown; the lower; Greenwich
Village; it’s away from Harlem [unclear]. They do all their activities away [unclear].
They don’t necessarily even shop at the grocery stores in Harlem. Principle number four: “Learn From Constant
Vigilance of Your Biases and Fears”. You know, we see this in students, or any individuals,
in topics of race/gender/sexual orientation. You’ve got to teach one another, and to teach
your students, that they have to do this [unclear]. As a person of color, I deal with race every
single day of my life, and I simply ask my White students to do the same thing; to be
aware; to be aware of themselves as racial, cultural beings. What is their racial, cultural
identity? Because a lot of people who are White cannot identify themselves as being
in a particular race or culture. They tend to see themselves in terms of ethnic groups.
You know, “I’m Irish.” You know, “I’m Jewish.” They won’t accept the fact that they are White,
and Whiteness is invisible to them. So, the constant vigilance of biases means you unmask
the invisibility of Whiteness. Principle five: “Learn From Being Committed
to Personal Action Against Racism.” And I guess I’m asking that teachers really do this.
Teachers, parents, students have to really be committed to personal action against racism.
When you hear a racist joke, how many of you say something about it, or do you let it go?
If you let it go, you’re perpetuating something that is very negative in essence of what is
going on. So these are the things that I think really
are quite important for us to look at as I end today’s topic; that it is very important
for all of us to begin to explore ourselves as racial, cultural beings; to make the invisible,
visible; to own up to the fact that we have biases/prejudices; and to not get defensive
when others might point out a racial/gender/sexual orientation blunder that occurred. Likewise,
for all of us who receive microaggressions, it is also important for us not to write someone
off. We have to reach out, in one way or another, to, in some sense, make it a learning experience
or opportunity [unclear]. After all, if I commit a gender microaggression, I wouldn’t
like to be dismissed without an opportunity to truly understand what I said, or did, that
created difficulties for the person who I might feel very positively about. And so, I hope that all of you have found
today’s presentation of some interest and help. And thank you very much.

About James Carlton

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15 thoughts on “Microaggressions in the Classroom: Manifestation, Dynamics and Impact

  1. It's called 'zoophilia'. It is not a sexual orientation, just like paedophilia. We have no reason to accept people that experience sexual attraction to living things incapable of consent.

  2. Whites are ALWAYS Racist

    Non-Whites are NEVER Racist

    Because in the real world Anti-Racist is just a codeword for Anti-White

  3. "Any socially devalued group in our society can experience microaggressions" except whites of course. We need them to take the role of the "villainous perpetrators" in our sketches depicting these most heinous crimes. What pseudo academic nonsense!

  4. I'm interested in microaggression as another facet of study of abuse, however, I believe that the term can and should be broadened to include everyday 'swipes' that abusers make.
    I do not agree that people who say things like 'Your english is very good' don't know that they are being rude – they know.
    What about people who wish people 'good luck' on their wedding day? It's not racially motivated but still a hateful microaggression. 
    No less valid.
    I think people who speak louder to the blind or to people who have English as their 2nd language have empathy issues. My mother is a suspected narcissist and she would display this behaviour with our German next door neighbours – she would just talk louder when they couldn't understand instead of rephrasing like the rest of us did.

    I always thought it was a bizarre reaction from my mother, but considering her overall lack of empathy I am betting that is the key to unlocking that behaviour.  

    She did try to modify her behaviour once it was pointed out but the fact that she couldn't comprehend the problem to begin with indicates a deeper issue. imo.

  5. Oh dear Christ, have we really gotten this hyper-sensitive and anal retentive?

     I like what Grandpa used to say: "I don't care a damn what you call me. Just don't call me late for dinner."

  6. This is proof that the Professors in the Sociology departments are not real scholars. This is propaganda at its worse. What this video proposes is that people have a right to be free of anyone voicing a different opinion than the Sociology Professors teachings. You do not have a right to stop people from expressing counter points of view, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you: racists, Christians, Right Political views, sexist views etc….all should be allowed to voice their opinions.  Grow up. In the real world you have to actually have an adult maturity level that allows you to cope with microbullshit.  The whole microaggression movement is a political left wing attempt to force college kids to think the way Sociologist Marxist Lerftist think people should think. College is about examining ALL points of view. Is it  clear what Sociologists want, is people to feel shame if they do not tow the Democratic Party or Marxist view point.

  7. This mexican doesnt know what hes talking about. Obsessing about things like microaggressions is what makes race gender topics hard to talk about, not the lack of awareness of imagined slights.

  8. People who believe this garbage is real are weak crybaby self made victims, who need to grow up. Adults should behave as adults, not whining children.

  9. This lecture should be labeled instead: "Personal experiences and feelings related to these experiences of PhD Derald Wing Sue".

    I would have liked to see statistics to all these numerous claims about the causality and sources of "microaggressions", instead the lecturer only provided broad generalizations, individual cases, and personal experiences. This is very unscientific and biased; making claims based on individual occurrences.

    Although some research was brought up, no research proof was given through the lecture, backing the existence of these 'microaggressions', or the relation of 'microaggressions' and these studies. They were in form: "Microaggressions exist, therefore dogs like to wag tail".

    The lecturer claiming racism stemming from gender and skin color, is racist itself. He claimed that people of white skin color are racist by default, unintentionally and unconsciously.

    Based on this lecture I just watched, it seems that this microaggression thing is an unscientific load of bullshit. If someone wants enlighten me on this subject, please do so and give me proper references(=studies), for reading, to back up your claims.

  10. This scholar is great. I will be using this tomorrow during our faculty development as a co-facilitator. This definitely increases awareness of real issues. Thank you Dr. Sue. 🙂

  11. Wow, all this <MANSPLANING> is really triggering me. Like, I don't need no man talking to me like a child. Who does he think he is?!

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