Sociology Essay on Microaggressions

Published: 2021-07-12
796 words
3 pages
7 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
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A year ago I met an African man called Tom with whom we became good friends. Tom hailed from Morocco. One day, while we were seated at a cafeteria, one of my friends ordered a double portion of his food and offered one plate to Tom without caring about whether or not he was hungry. When Tom politely declined, my friend remarked: Arent people in Africa dying from hunger? Microaggressions are those casual degradations that are subtly communicated either verbally or nonverbally to harm people of color, women, transgendered persons, and other groups of marginalized people (Sue, 2010). It is possible for ones actions and words to communicate subtle forms of discrimination unintentionally. The perpetrators of any microaggressions are usually unaware of the demeaning nature of their communication to the recipient. So insidious are these acts that it is necessary to enlighten people on some of the examples of microaggressions which take the forms of race and gender. My friend, Tom, was so embarrassed at the racial remarks that I felt it necessary to share some knowledge on microaggressions. I have read eye-opening books and articles on the state of discrimination in the society, and I will outline the racial and gender microaggressions with the relevant examples. I will then give the possible ways of dealing with microaggressions.

Toms case mirrored racial microaggressions. It is true that one of the major epidemics facing most of the African countries is hunger. However, it does not mean that since Tom is dark-skinned, it is safe to conclude that he is from Africa and is, therefore, an accurate representation of the issues facing the whole African continent. I mentioned earlier that Tom is Moroccan. It is a country that in 2015, received accolades from the United Nations for their tremendous progress in mitigating hunger thanks to a national plan dubbed Plan for a Green Morocco.' Therefore, the notion that all countries in Africa are suffering from hunger is misguided and barbaric. Other common racial microaggressions include expressions of shock when a non-American person speaks English or questions such as What are you? Racial microaggressions assail the self-esteem of the victims who feel associated with negativity (Sue, 2010).

Despite the fact that conscious and deliberate forms of gender bias are on the decrease, men who realize the importance of equality between the sexes often unknowingly stereotype women. Women attest to the fact that they have been objectified as sexual objects and their effectiveness in professional settings has considerably been overlooked. These are instances which fit the description of gender microaggressions. Accordingly, when a woman makes a suggestion during a board meeting, the chairman may refrain from commenting yet when a man does the same, they are recognized and even receive praises (Paludi, 2013). Such microaggressions; however cleverly contrived, make women feel as though their contributions are less worthy than those of their male counterparts.

Following the illustration of the examples of racial and gender microaggressions, it is necessary to indicate two ways in which a victim of any form of microaggression may respond. First, those on the receiving end should learn to remain calm no matter how demeaning a persons comments (Paludi, 2012). In this way, ones reputation will not be soiled by a misinformed comment. Otherwise, an outburst offers nothing but temporary relief and new unwarranted labels. Secondly, microaggressions should be met with the quest for clarification. The victim should ask the perpetrator to restate their claim so that the latter is given a chance to think about their statement while the victim prepares a calm response (Paludi, 2012). I mentioned earlier that the villain, in most cases, is unaware of their actions. In that case, asking for a repeat gives the person the benefit of the doubt, and they may even realize that their words were derogatory and requested a pardon.

All in all, microaggressions communicate subtle forms of unintended racial and gender-based discrimination. While the victims of racial microaggression cite that their self-esteem is significantly affected by snide remarks, women who suffer gender microaggressions often feel worthless in the presence of their male counterparts. It is important to remain calm during a microaggression incident and to give the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt so that ones reputation remains unscathed. It is, therefore, a timely enlightenment of the various forms of microaggressions so that nobody is on the receiving end. Above all, let us all be conscious about what we say to others so that we can curb any cases of microaggressions.


Paludi, M. A. (2012). Managing diversity in today's workplace: Strategies for employees and employers. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

Paludi, M. A. (2013). Women and management: Global issues and promising solutions. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.: Praeger.

Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

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