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Microaggression theory

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Microaggression is a term coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University[wp] professor Chester M. Pierce[wp] in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals he said he had regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans[wp].[1][2][3][4] In 1973, MIT economist Mary Rowe extended the term to include similar aggressions directed at women; eventually, the term came to encompass the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, such as the poor and the disabled.[5]


Quote: «Derald Wing Sue[wp] first proposed a classification of racial microaggressions in a 2007 article on how they manifest in clinical practice in the "American Psychologist" (Vol. 2, No. 4).[6] There, he notes three types of current racial transgressions:
Microassaults: Conscious and intentional actions or slurs, such as using racial epithets, displaying swastikas or deliberately serving a white person before a person of color in a restaurant.
Microinsults: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person's racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a colleague of color how she got her job, implying she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system.
Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, white people often ask Asian-Americans where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land.»[7][8]


  1. Derald Wing Sue[wp] (2010). Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. Wiley. pp. xvi. ISBN 047049140X
  2. Delpit, Lisa (2012). "Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children. The New Press. ISBN 1595580468
  3. Treadwell, Henrie M. (2013). Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men. Praeger. p. 47. ISBN 1440803994
  4. Sommers-Flanagan, Rita (2012). Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice: Skills, Strategies, and Techniques. Wiley. p. 294. ISBN 0470617934
  5. Paludi, Michele (2010). Victims of Sexual Assault and Abuse: Resources and Responses for Individuals and Families (Women's Psychology). Praeger. p. 22. ISBN 031337970X
  6. Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice[webarchive], by Derald Wing Sue, Christina M. Capodilupo, Gina C. Torino, Jennifer M. Bucceri, Aisha M. B. Holder, Kevin L. Nadal, and Marta Esquilin
  7. Tori DeAngelis: Unmasking 'racial micro aggressions'[webarchive], 2009, Vol 40, No. 2 Print version: page 42
  8. SJWiki: Microaggression[webarchive], Version from 11 December 2014