“I didn't know that was racist”: Costs of racial microaggressions to white people

D. Anthony Clark, Lisa Spanierman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


In the 21st-century United States, only Whites are the perpetrators of racial microaggressions, whichcontribute to the web of societal, organizational, and individual acts of racism that reproduce the conditionsof White advantage from one generation to the next. The chapter introduces conceptual literature and empiricalresearch about the cognitive, affective, and behavioral costs of racism to Whites. The costs of perpetrating racial microaggressions to White folks must be understood in a wider economic context that provides material, civic, and psychological benefits to them. Spanierman and Heppner developed psychosocial costs of racism to Whites theory from conceptual scholarship in psychology and education. The chapter briefly discusses the implications for future racial microaggressions research, education and training, and organizational policy. Any challenges to racial microaggressions could be experienced by the insensitive and afraid perpetrator or bystander as threatening their dominant position in the racialized social system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicroaggression Theory
Subtitle of host publicationInfluence and Implications
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781119466642
ISBN (Print)9781119420040
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Organizational policy
  • Psychosocial benefits
  • Psychosocial costs
  • Racial microaggressions
  • Racialized social system
  • Socioeconomic context
  • White people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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