Microaggressions in the Classroom
- Continuing to mispronounce the names of students after they have corrected you time and time again. Such as “Is Jose Cuinantila here?” “I am here, but my name is Jesús Quintanilla.”
- Setting low expectations for students from particular groups or [geographic area].
- “Oh, so Robert, you’re from Montbello [an inner city] High School? You are going to need lots of academic help in my class!”
- Using inappropriate humor. “Anyone want to hear a good joke? There was a Jew, a Mexican, and a Black. The Mexican says to the…”
- Expressing racially charged political opinions in class assuming that the targets of those opinions do not exist in class. Such as “I think illegal aliens are criminals because they are breaking the law and need to be rounded up and sent back to Mexico.”
- [Using the term “illegals” to reference undocumented students.]
- Hosting debates in class that place students from groups who may represent the minority opinion in class in a difficult position. Such as “Today we are going to have a debate on immigration. I expect the three Latino students and a few of you to argue in favor of immigration. The rest of you will provide arguments against immigration.”
- Singling students out in class because of their backgrounds. Such as “You’re Asian! Can you tell us what the Japanese think about our trade policies?”
- Expecting students of any particular group to ‘represent’ the perspectives of others of their race, in class discussions or debates.
- Assuming that students of particular ethnicities must speak another language or must not speak English. “You’re Latino and you don’t speak Spanish?”
- Complimenting non-white students on their use of “good English.”
- Discouraging students from working on projects that explore their own social identities. Such as “If you are Native American, I don’t want you to write your paper on Native Americans. You already know everything about that group and besides you will be biased in your writing.”
- Ignoring student‐to‐student microaggressions.
- Featuring pictures of students of only one ethnicity or gender on the school website.
- Having students engage in required reading where the protagonists are always white.
Most examples from Microaggressions in the Classroom, University of Denver, Center for Multicultural Excellence, by former students Joel Portman, Tuyen Trisa Bui and Javier Ogaz; and Dr. Jesús Treviño, former Associate Provost for Multicultural Excellence 2013)