Microaggressions are brief and repetitive verbal, behavioural and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults to a person or group. Microaggressions may constitute harassment in some cases, and are contrary to the King’s Bullying and Harassment Policy.
The term micro-aggression was first used by Dr Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals directed at Black people from non-Black Americans. This term is now used to describe this type of behaviour based on any aspect of a marginalised person’s identity.
Microaggressions are often only noticeable to the individual being targeted. If unchallenged, micro-aggressions can have a negative impact not only on individuals but they can re-affirm stereotypes and perpetuate conscious or unconscious bias in others.
Examples may include (but are not limited to):
- A teacher in the classroom asking for a ‘strong man’ to help carry equipment
- Comments such as ‘you look so normal’ to a person with a disability
- Misgendering someone (especially after they have shared their pronouns)
- In the UK, asking someone from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background “Where are you really from?”