Reviewing Racial Microaggressions Research: Documenting Targets’ Experiences, Harmful Sequelae, and Resistance Strategies

Lisa B. Spanierman, D. Anthony Clark, Yeeun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, we review the theoretical and empirical literature on racial microaggressions from 2007 to 2020 (N = 138 articles). First, we refine racial microaggressions theory and update the definition to address mischaracterizations in the literature and clarify the term (i.e., “micro” refers to microlevel interactions rather than degree of harm). Next, we used four superordinate categories (i.e., pathologizing differences, denigrating and pigeonholing, excluding or rendering invisible, and perpetuating color-blind racial attitudes) in which to situate racial microaggression themes from the extant literature. Moreover, we consolidated and renamed existing themes to privilege targets’ perspectives (e.g., facing assumptions of inferior status and enduring exoticization). We then synthesized qualitative and quantitative research that shows harmful sequelae of racial microaggressions (i.e., psychological and physiological symptoms). Extending prior research on coping with gendered racial microaggressions, we describe empirical findings on collective, resistance, and self-protective strategies to mitigate the harmful impact of racial microaggressions. We conclude with directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1059
Number of pages23
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • everyday racism
  • racial microaggressions
  • White supremacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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