Microaggression Literature Review

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Literature Review The literature review of this study includes research related to three key questions: (a) What are racial microaggressions? (b) What are the challenges that Black students at predominantly white colleges and universities encounter in the classroom? (c) What does Black resistance look like at predominantly white colleges and universities? Racial Microaggressions How are racial microaggressions defined? The concept of racial microaggressions1 was first coined in 1970 by psychologist Chester Pierce who defined it as the “subtle, stunning, often automatic, and non-verbal exchange which are ‘put downs’ of blacks by offenders” (Pierce, Carew, Pierce-Gonzalez, and Willis 1978: 66). In recent studies, racial microaggressions have…show more content…
Sue et al. (2009) identify three forms: (1) microassault, (2) microinsult, and (3) microinvalidation. A microassault is an “explicit racial derogation characterized primarily by a verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior, or purposeful discriminatory actions” (Sue et al. 2007: 274). These assaults are considered more “old-fashioned” racism where people will only display notions of minority inferiority “when they (a) lose control or (b) feel relatively safe to engage in microassault” (Sue et al. 2007: 274). A microinsult conveys rudeness and insensitivity towards a person’s racial heritage or identity (Sue et al. 2007). They are more subtle than microassaults and are “frequently unknown to the perpetrator, but clearly convey a hidden message to the recipient of color” (Sue et al. 2007: 274). These can occur verbally, such as asking an Asian person to help with a science or math problem (Sue et al. 2007). Additionally, they can occur nonverbally, such as a white woman clutching her purse when a Black or Latinx approaches or passes by (Sue et al.…show more content…
When a teacher fails to disrupt the master narrative through their teaching practice, Black girls, like Chayla [Haynes] are only left with one recourse, to remain silent. Silence in this context is a manifestation of powerlessness that resembles surrender” (Haynes et al. 2016: 387). Likewise, invisibility in the classroom is mentioned by the African-American students in Solórzano, Ceja, and Yosso’s study that examines the impacts of racial climate on the undergraduate experiences of African Americans students through racial microaggressions. As expressed by one African American female, invisibility by professors is experienced when Black students are viewed as a numerical racial minority, which translates into being ingnored in the class: ‘I think that when professors see that there’s fewer of you, they’re less likely to address your concerns’” (Solórzano, Ceja, and Yosso 2000:
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