Monday, April 4, 2011

Microaggression by Marisol

In class we have been talking about microaggression that people of color experience. Microaggression takes place in different ways. It’s an insult that can be made verbally, physically, intentionally, and not intentionally, and it happens mostly to minority groups. Many times it’s a brief statement someone makes. Usually it’s unexpected and can happen at any time and any place. People of all genders, religions, sexual orientations, and other social identities may experience microaggression.

When I meet people, the first questions I am usually asked is, “where are you from?” If I answer that I was born in the United States, the next question usually is, “Where are your parents from?” or “How did your parents come to the United States?” After it is clearly established I am Mexican the next questions are about how and why I came here. The questions just continue to build up more and more. I believe the bottom line in these conversations is to find out if I really am in the United States legally. Because I have black hair and brown skin, many times people assume I am “illegal”. The common stereotype in this country is that all Hispanics and Latinos are fugitive “illegal” immigrants that bring strife to every community we enter.

According to the article titled Racial Microaggression in Everyday Life (Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, and Esquilin, 2007) it is extremely difficult for victims to address microaggression. Those who experience microaggression go through four dilemmas: 1) Did it really happen? 2) How can I prove that it happened? 3) Does it really have a personal effect on me? 4) What should I do about it or is it even worth doing anything about? This is always a negative experience to go through because it’s something that over a long period of time can begin to have affects on one’s physical, mental and emotional health. If I spoke up for every time I was in a situation in which I was experiencing microaggression, that’s all I would ever do. I would always be in a defensive state, which can get very exhausting. If I said nothing at all it would just become an internal disease that would consume me from the inside out.

In conclusion, I can personally say that microaggression has a profound short and long term impacts on the victim. It is never a positive experience whether it is publically addressed or accumulated over time. The outcome is likely to have negative results individually and to whole communities. I have to build an inner strength and confidence in myself that is unbreakable and encourage others to do them same in order to deal with this issue.


Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri J. M., 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.


  1. The topic of microaggression tends to bring out defensiveness, especially when talking to someone who likely participates in microaggression. Unfortunately people harbor judgments based on race because of socialization. I think discussion of the topic can only help us to realize when we are thinking or acting in a derogatory or offensive way. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with microaggression in helping us to see that there is an issue.

    Until this past week I had never been in a position where there wasn't someone else who looked like me in the room. This week I walked into a group of people where I was surrounded by people with different skin color than me I could sense people questioning why I was there. After time people seemed to adjust to my presence, but would want to know why I was there. While this situation is distinct from true microaggression, it speaks to the fact that we continue to classify people and have expectations about who is welcome.

    Through discussion and interaction we can broaden our understanding of people and begin to see everyone as equals.

  2. As a Hmong person, I have been asked where I am from many times as well. Although I do get offended at times, I've come to realized that I prefer people to ask rather than just assume. I have taken upon me to see it from a positive side and see it as if they really just want to know where I am from. However I do understand what you communicating here and hope that you will keep on carrying that courage with you. I do agree with you that Micro-agressions can have a profound effects on individuals,I just hope that individuals will keep on speaking up for things that they are offended by in order for others to be aware as well. I believe one of the best way for others to realized that you are offended by a certain action or message from them is to let them know. I am sure most people don't mean to discriminate or insult others most of the time(my assumptions).

  3. Marisol,

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience regarding micro-aggression. I believe hearing stories helps put a term into perspective. It gave me a fresh perspective on how my future clients may be affected by micro-aggression.

    As a social worker, I think of one of our tasks is to be advocates. I feel that what may seem like subtle acts of micro-aggression could use many advocates to educate others as to why their actions may be offensive. But I am not always perfect and will need to continually remind myself to be aware of my actions.

    In other discussions we have talked about being aware of our biases. I feel that micro-aggression is an area where being aware of our biases may put a stop to what may be unintentional micro-aggression.


  4. Marisol,
    Thanks for sharing your story with us. Coming from Hmong women, I have been asked the same questions every time I met someone new. Not just meeting but being interviewed for a job or interviewing to get something. It builds and builds and sometimes you just question yourself if they really see you or they only see your history. My name is also plays a role in this. Many times people can’t pronounce my name right so I would have to correct them. I find it hard correcting people because I say my name with an accent and people can’t pronounce it with the same accent. Once they got the name then they started building from the name to my history. But even though I have to say my name over and over, and having to answer the same questions over and over again, I don’t get tired of it. It’s kind of reminding me of who I am and where I’m from.