Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Black Lives Matter

This guide offers suggested resources from RLB librarians, archivists, and staff and the broader community for learning more about racism, inequality, white privilege, policing, and other social issues impacting the lives of Black Americans.

What are microaggressions?

Have you ever experienced, witnessed or even committed a microaggression?

  • "When I look at you, I don't see color."
  • "You are so articulate"
  • I'm not a racist, I have several black friends"
  • "As a woman, I know what you go through as a racial minority"
  • "I believe the most qualified person should get the job"
  • "May I touch your hair?"
  • "I can't be racist because I'm a person of color"
  • "You're one of the good ones"
  • "Where are you from" /"Where were you born"
  • Saying "You people..."
  • "Indian giver"
  • "That's so gay"
  • "I jewed him down"
  • That's so White of you"
  • "We got gypped"
  • Imitating accents or dialects!

Microaggressions are not just things people say, they are also reflected in the structure of communities, institutions, and in popular culture. Some behaviors are microaggressions as well. For example:

  • A white person clutching their purse or checking wallet in the presence of a Black or Latino person
  • A store owner following a non-White person around the store
  • A college or university with buildings all named after upper middle class heterosexual white males
  • Television shows without any representation of people of color
  • Television shows with only stereotypical and representations of people of color
  • Overcrowding in public schools in communities of color
  • Opening businesses and only selling stereotypical things like fried chicken, liquor, and hair weaves.
  • Mistaking a person of color for a service worker

Some microaggressions many Black people experience on a regular basis include:

  • Assumptions of criminality
  • Exoticization
  • Assumptions of intellectual inferiority
  • Criticism for cultural communication styles, behaviors, and styles of dress

MIcroaggressions can have a significant impact on people's mental and physical health. Studies show the more racial microaggressions people of color face, the more likely they are to suffer from depressive symptoms and a negative view of the world. They can also cause anxiety and trauma leading to a myriad of negative experiences (Advancing Justice contributors).

Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away from NPR

Scholarly Research on Microaggressions available through RLB Library Search

  1. Reactions to Witnessing Ethnic Microaggressions: An Experimental Study.

    Academic Journal

    By: Torres, Lucas; Reveles, Alexandra K.; Mata-Greve, Felicia; Schwartz, Sarah; Domenech Rodriguez, Melanie M. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology. Feb2020, Vol. 39 Issue 2, p141-164. 24p. DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2020.39.02.141. , Database: Academic Search Ultimate

    Subjects: MICROAGGRESSIONS; SYSTOLIC blood pressure; ATTITUDES of ethnic groups; FORM perception; MULTILEVEL models 

  2. Challenging Definitions of Psychological Trauma: Connecting Racial Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress.

    Academic Journal

    By: Nadal, Kevin L.; Erazo, Tanya; King, Rukiya. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology. Winter2019, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p2-16. 15p. DOI: 10.33043/jsacp.11.2.2-16. , Database: SocINDEX with Full Text

    Subjects: Secondary traumatic stress; Emotional trauma; Microaggressions; Definitions; Multiple regression analysis

  3. African American professionals in higher education: experiencing and coping with racial microaggressions.

    Academic Journal

    By: DeCuir-Gunby, Jessica T.; Johnson, Oriana T.; Womble Edwards, Callie; McCoy, Whitney N.; White, Angela M. Race, Ethnicity & Education. Jul2020, Vol. 23 Issue 4, p492-508. 17p. DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2019.1579706. , Database: SocINDEX with Full Text

    Subjects: Racism; Job stress; Work environment; Historically black colleges & universities; African American college teachers; Higher education; Microaggressions