Fact or Fiction: Are racial microaggressions a real problem?

Many choose to ignore the existence and importance of racial microaggressions by simply saying students of color fail to achieve academic success because of their negative attitudes or behaviors. The purpose of this blog is to dispel these erroneous beliefs by providing access to extensive research that demonstrates the academic performance of students of color improves in an environment free of racial microaggressions.

Racial microaggressions are brief and everyday environmental, behavioral or verbal insults that communicate a negative point of view about students of color. Unconscious, and often unintended, racial bias causes teachers to behave differently with students of color. Sometimes, racial bias behavior is so subtle that it can go unnoticed by the teacher. However, even subtle microaggressions towards students’ of color can cause emotional and/or psychological experiences that seriously undermine their academic achievement.

The existence of racial microaggressions can no longer be disputed or denied. A new study conducted by the Harvard University Voices of Diversity project has revealed that students of color still experience racial microaggressions on a regular basis. The “Final Report for the Success of African American Students (SAAS) in Independent Schools project” conducted by Arrington and Stevenson revealed that at least 3 out of 4 high achieving students of color faced racial microaggressions from peers and teachers.

Is it a problem without a solution?

Most teachers who engage in racial microaggressions are unaware of the hidden messages communicated by their words and behavior, as well as, the harm caused to students of color. Without fully understanding the complexity of the issues, most educators simply try their best to accept and acknowledge the different perspectives that come with students of color. The common approach is to simply diversify their syllabi to provide what they believe to be a healthy learning experience. Despite these efforts, racial microaggressions remains a prevalent problem for students of color.

However, the solution depends on a recognition of the existence of unconscious biases and an understanding of the assumptions that result from these biases. Research shows that once these unconscious biases are recognized, educators can better modify their interactions with students of color to ensure their academic success.

The primary goal of addressing racial microaggressions blog is to help educators create an academic environment that ensures the success of all students, including students of color. It also provides an opportunity for an open conversation on pedagogical strategies designed to eliminate racial microaggressions in the classroom.