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What is a Microagression

Updated on December 22, 2017

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I have experienced Dr. Sue in my Master’s Social Psychology course through a series of videos that we were to watch. During that specific time, I became extremely offended by the implication that only white people perpetrate racism and microagressions.

The paper that I have just read by Sue, et al. (2007) says the same thing. Only people of color are victims of “microagressions” which I find to be a truly racial statement in itself. A microagression is simply a comment made by a white person, with no ill-intent, that indicates a recognition of the minority’s differences.

I am of Heinz 57 descent, having mostly European and some Native American blood coursing through my veins. My husband’s last name is Perez, and he does not like to be called “Hispanic” and prefers to be called an American.

I believe that a great deal of the problem with cultural disparity comes from forcing people to differentiate themselves by race, for example, “Mexican-American” or “Asian-American” or “African-American”. In this country, a long and hard battle was fought by brave and intelligent men of all colors to try to equalize the playing field just to have the very groups that fought for integration doing a lot of self-segregation. For example, cultural differences between black Americans and Latinos causes them both to find they need to have their own exclusive organizations, like LULAC and NAACP.

There is a Black Congressional Caucus, and Black and Latina Beauty Pageants, and Black Fireman’s Unions. I wonder why, because there are no White Congressional Caucuses, No White beauty pageants, and no White Fireman’s Unions. All are welcome into the original organizations, why did the minority groups decide it was better to segregate themselves out and negate Dr. Martin Luther King’s hard work?

I’m curious what would happen if a Caucasian Only organization were created today? Would that be an acceptable move, or would the white people once again be called racist because of the exclusive nature of their club? I’m not certain it has been tested.

Society is a huge place where many demographics find it necessary to live together. Sometimes someone is going to say something that may bother another person, but it does not mean the speaker had an underlying detestation for the individual who did not like what he said. Someone can come up to a non-Christian and say “Merry Christmas”. It is up to the recipient of the statement to decide if any harm was meant by the salutation. It is very likely that it came from the heart of the delivery, and was not meant to offend.

Who is responsible for the offense in such a case? Would it be the person who innocently said something like “I sure wish I had a natural tan” or the person who took it to mean something negative? It is so confusing to try to figure out which set of eggshells one must walk on depending on the person who you are talking to.

Would a black man who says something negative to a white person be committing a microagression? According to Dr. Sue, that would not be the case.

The problem with race is that it keeps coming up. If people of color would just be people, rational and reasonable, maybe “microagressions” would not exist, and maybe people would learn to look beyond the color of their own skin and acknowledge that it is possible that they are their own problem.


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