Perceptions of Racial Microaggressions’ Impact on Undergraduate College Campuses
Racial microaggressions are daily interactions that either consciously or unconsciously communicate hostile slights. Microaggressions have been shown to have a deleterious effect on targets of the aggression, including decreased academic performance and graduation rates (Solórzano & Yosso, 2001). However, little is known about perceptions of racial microaggressions on college campuses. In the current study, a path analysis was used to investigate the effect of past experience with microaggressions (i.e., social distance from microaggressions) and beliefs that race does not influence experience (i.e., colorblind racial attitudes) on perceptions of the impact of microaggressions on undergraduate college campuses. As hypothesized, (a) social distance from microaggressions was found to influence participants’ colorblind racial attitudes and whether they labeled microaggressions as racist; (b) colorblind racial attitudes affected whether participants labeled microaggressions as racist and classified their impact as negative; and (c) labeling microaggressions as racist influenced perceptions of the impact of microaggressions. Social distance from microaggressions, participants’ race and their past and current experiences with diversity were found to affect perceptions of the impact of racial microaggressions when mediated through colorblind racial attitudes. Better understanding the factors that shape perceptions is important in order to figure out how to make the impact of racial microaggressions more visible, which could contribute to diminishing their negative impact.
Arlyn Madsen-Bond, Scripps College
Keywords: microaggression, community psychology, gjcpp