Excluded and avoided: Racial microaggressions targeting Asian international students in Canada

Sara Houshmand, Lisa B. Spanierman, Romin W. Tafarodi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


This qualitative study explored East and South Asian international students' (N = 12) experiences with racial microaggressions at one Canadian university. Data were collected through unstructured, individual interviews. Using a modified version of the consensual qualitative research method (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997), we identified six racial microaggressions themes: (a) excluded and avoided, (b) ridiculed for accent, (c) rendered invisible, (d) disregarded international values and needs, (e) ascription of intelligence, and (f) environmental microaggressions (structural barriers on campus). In addition, we used the same approach to identify themes pertaining to the ways in which students coped with racial microaggressions: (a) engaging with own racial and cultural groups, (b) withdrawing from academic spheres, and (c) seeking comfort in the surrounding multicultural milieu. Microaggressions and coping themes differed based on country of origin and language proficiency. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian international students
  • Campus racial climate
  • Coping
  • Higher education
  • Racial microaggressions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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