American psychiatrist Chester Middlebrook Pierce first coined the term racial microaggression, in the 1970s to refer to automatic and often subtle “put downs” directed toward African Americans (Pierce, Carew, Pierce-Gonzalez, & Willis, 1978, p. 66). Columbia professor, Derald Wing Sue expanded on the work of Pierce and colleagues (1978) and proposed a conceptual framework of how racial microaggressions manifest in the everyday lives of people of color (Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, & Esquilin, 2007). Racial microaggressions are, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group” (Sue, Capodilupo, et al., 2007, p. 273). Racial microaggressions are also subtle, insensitive, automatic and sometimes unconscious verbal, non-verbal, and/or visual insults and indignities directed towards African American people or people of color (Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000). Simply stated, these are quick, everyday interactions that send denigrating messages to people of color (Sue, Capodilupo, et al., 2007).
Pierce, C., Carew, J., Pierce-Gonzalez, D., & Willis, D. (1978). An experiment in racism: TV commercials. In C. Pierce (Ed.), Television and education (pp. 62-88). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Solórzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and campus racial climate: the experiences of African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 69, 60-73.
Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271
President Obama and Racial Microaggressions
Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, President Obama gave a speech to the public.
Although he did not mention it by name, the experiences President Obama describes are racial microaggressions:
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago…I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away…There are very few African American men who have not had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in the department store. That includes me. And there are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. It happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on the elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often” (Obama, 7/19/ 2013).
Dr. Chioma Anah Publications/Articles on Racial Microaggressions:
Anah, C. (2016, November 1). Racial Microaggressions: Consequences of “Assumption of Criminality” on African American Men. Compass Points, 9 (2), 6-7. MCA Quarterly Newsletter Compass Points, Issue 9, Volume 2, Fall 2016
Anah, C. (2015). What Are Racial Microaggressions? PerceptA Therapeutic Blog (Chioma Anah, Ed.D., LCPC).
Anah, C. (2014). Experiences of Racial Microaggressions and Coping Mechanisms among African American Men in the Workplace: A Phenomenological and Art-Based Inquiry. (Doctoral Dissertation. Anah, C. 2014).
Artwork In Response To Racial Microaggressions:
Dr. Chioma Anah’s works of art (2014-2017) encourages serious reflection and exploration into issues related to social and racial justice, historical racial trauma, diversity, and racial microaggressions.
Dr. Anah’s National, State, and Local Presentations on Racial Microaggressions (Juried/Refereed):
Maryland Counseling Association (MCA) Conference:
Anah, C. (2017). African American Men and their Coping Responses to Racial Microaggressions (2017 Maryland Counseling Association- MCA Conference- November 3, 2017).
Anah, C. (2016). Experiences and Consequences of Racial Microaggressions among African American Professional Men in the American Workplace. (2016 Maryland Counseling Association-MCA Conference- November 5, 2016).
American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Conference:
Anah, C. (2015). Experiences of Racial Microaggressions and Coping Skills among Professional African-American Men. (46th American Art Therapy Association- AATA Conference- 2015)
Anah, C. (2015). Unmasking Racial Microaggressions within the Therapeutic Relationship: Working with African American Clients (Workshop- AATA Conference- 2015)
Unmasking Racial Microaggressions within the Therapeutic Relationship. Workshop (AATA Conference- 2015)