Microaggressions in Higher Education: Manifestations, Dynamics, and Impact

New research on the manifestation, dynamics, and harmful impact of microaggressions on socially devalued groups has become of high importance in the field of education. Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases these hidden messages may invalidate the group identities or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate that they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment. While microaggressions are generally discussed from the perspective of race and racism, any marginalized group in our society may become targets: people of color, women, LGBT persons, those with disabilities, religious minorities, and so on. In higher education, for example, racial microaggressions are often delivered by well-intentioned White administrators, faculty, staff, and students toward their counterparts of color. These microaggressions have a detrimental impact upon recipients by promoting and fostering inequities in higher education. This keynote is aimed at presenting cutting-edge research and perspectives on the manifestation, psychological dynamics, and impact of microaggressions on the well being of marginalized groups in higher education.

Derald Wing Sue is Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He was Co-Founder and first President of the Asian American Psychological Association, and is Past President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues and the Society of Counseling Psychology. Dr. Sue has served as Editor of the Personnel and Guidance Journal, Associate Editor of the American Psychologist, and serves on the Council of Elders for Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Dr. Sue can truly be described as a pioneer in the field of multicultural psychology, multicultural education, multicultural counseling and therapy, and the psychology of racism/antiracism. His current research explores the manifestation, dynamics, and impact of racial, gender, and sexual orientation microaggressions. He currently applies this research to strategies for facilitating difficult dialogues on race in the classroom and public forums. He is the author of over 150 publications and has received numerous awards, most recently the American Psychological Association 2013 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest.

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