The term microaggresssion referes to the subtle comments and behaviors that invalidate a person’s identity, perpetuate dominate narratives, and are negative racial slights to people of color. When the term microaggression was first coined it was used to describe those insults that people of color experience based on racist ideology and misconceptions. Now the term “microaggressions” is used as a more inclusive term to name those hostile behaviors and situations that not only people of color face, but that are often experienced by those with subordinate identities, i.e., women, gay people, disabled people, those who do not identify as Christian, elders, etc.

Often microaggressions happen in those situations where you have to ask yourself “did they say that to me because I’m <insert identity here>?”  They are the moments that shock you and throw you for a loop, so much that you might not give the response you would have wanted once you look at the situation in retrospect.

There are 3 kinds of microaggressions:

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. The perpetrator is aware of his actions.

Microinvalidation- characterized by communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person of color.

Microinsult is characterized by communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity. Microinsults represent subtle snubs, frequently unknown to the perpetrator, but clearly convey a hidden insulting message to the recipient of color.