”indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.”

was coined by Chester M. Pierce, a Harvard University psychiatrist in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals which he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflicting on African Americans

Popularized by D.W Sue

A subtle or indirect form of discrimination or prejudice that is often unintentional or unconscious, but can cause harm or discomfort to the target group. For example, asking a person of color where they are really from, or complimenting a woman on her intelligence as if it is unusual. Microaggressions can affect people based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, or other aspects of their identity .

Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership”. The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.

Types of Microaggressions:

According to Sue et al., ^[https://doi.org/10.1037%2F0003-066x.62.4.271] microaggressions seem to appear in four forms:


an explicit racial derogation; verbal/nonverbal; e.g. name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.


communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity; subtle snubs; unknown to the perpetrator; hidden insulting message to the recipient.


communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.

Environmental Microaggressions (Macro-Level)

Racial assaults, insults and invalidations which are manifested on systemic and environmental level.