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(p. 35) Causes of Microaggressions 

(p. 35) Causes of Microaggressions
Chapter:
(p. 35) Causes of Microaggressions
Author(s):

Monnica T. Williams

DOI:
10.1093/med-psych/9780190875237.003.0002
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date: 08 July 2020

Abstract: This chapter analyzes the reasons why people commit microaggressions and how they are maintained. Microaggressions are conceptualized as learned behaviors, taught through observational learning and other social mechanisms from an early age. The impact of implicit bias is that Whites are implicitly taught they are a superior race, even though explicitly they may be instructed otherwise. As a result, their actions or inactions continue to promote racism in subtle, microaggressive ways. Aversive racism differs from blatant, old-fashioned racism, and it characterizes the racial attitudes of most well-educated and progressive White Americans. Aversive racists outwardly endorse fair and just treatment of all groups yet harbor feelings of discomfort toward people of color that may be unconscious. Microaggressions can also occur in the form of avoidance and inaction. Because biased socialization practices and interracial interactions put people at risk of committing microaggressions, some individuals find themselves avoiding people of color altogether and thus having little interaction with them. Microaggressions persist because the underlying cause of these behaviors (racism) reinforces social inequalities and hierarchies that are desirable to the in-group. Finally, people of color can and do commit microaggressions against each other; however, this occurs under an umbrella of White racial supremacy.

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