Research Paper

                      Microaggression in the United States of America: an invisible curtain in between the majority and minority

     Microaggression is an intentional or unintentional expression of hostile behavior or insult towards a targeted person or group. The inequitable attitude revealed through microaggression undermines the equality between individuals of different backgrounds, groups, and races in society. Co-cultural theory, racial segregation, nonverbal indignities, negative attitude towards LGBT community and to mentally ill people, thinking the blacks to be criminal, making the immigrants alien in their own country, Islamophobia – all of these go under the microaggressive act. In the United States of America, the microaggressive act was seeded in the form of racial segregation. The pages of the constitution and the number of laws have been increased from time to time in the intention to uproot microaggression for good. However,  the image of microaggressive acts in the United States of America has evolved to an equivocal and unclear form now. The laws made under the U.S.A. government, will not be enough to end the microaggressive acts in society until the people of U.S.A. convert their mind to a broad one with ideas full of equality and micro-resistance.

     The poem of Langston Hughes, Let America be America Again, shows the visible or direct form of microaggression in the USA at the time of 1936. The poet, Langston Hughes, is a black American poet. Facing microaggressive acts specifically racial discrimination during his life has made him writing about the segregation at the time of 1936. He has tried to capture the society with microaggression at that time. He has used repetition as a literary device in the poem to pressurize his voice broadly and effectively to all. In the poem, he has also invited every American to hope for their equality without dragging any segregation or microaggression between them. The speaker of the poem expressed that immigrants, colored people, economically and politically weak people and other minority groups are bound to face microaggression in their everyday life. The optimistic voice of the speaker concludes saying that America will regain it’s true identity if everyone stands together without having any political, economic, social and racial microaggressive acts in between them. Langston Hughes has portrayed every angle of microaggression and inequality in his poem where he says, “I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,/I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars./I am the red man driven from the land,/I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–/And finding only the same old stupid plan/Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.”(line 20-25, Let America be America Again). The speaker of the poem has figured out that the poor white man, negro, Indian American, immigrants have been facing discrimination and are controlled by the high powers. The last two lines stated above means that the power of America has gone under some specific group who are making the minorities suffer every day and depressing them by microaggressive acts. The speaker says that America has lost its promise about giving a shade of equality to everyone. “Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme/That any man is crushed by one above.” (line 8-9, stanza 2, Let America be America Again) In these lines, the speaker means that America should never be a place where the minorities get violated or oppressed by the powerful majorities. Everyone should be treated and loved in the same manner.There’s never been equality for me,/Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”(line 15-16, Let America be America Again) In these lines, the speaker directly says that America has never shown equality to him and has never felt the freedom at all. Let America be America Again, portrays the society after gaining independence at 1776. The poem mainly focuses on the microaggressive society in 1936 where a dominant power is governing the minorities.  

The book, “That’s So Gay!: Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community”, explains about the microaggressive acts towards LGBT. This book has been published in 2013 by Kevin L. Nadal who works under the American Psychological Association. This book represents the microaggressive acts towards the LGBT community in their workplace, private and public life. Same-sex marriage has been approved in the USA during the time of 2003 but still, the lack of anti-discrimination acts towards the LGBT community don’t give this community any protection against the microaggressive acts. In regular life, saying a bisexual person that she/he doesn’t look lesbian/gay is a regular microaggressive act they face. This book points out every part of microaggressive acts in society and how this affects the psychology of the community. In the book, the writer explains about an experience of one transgender who says that she lost his close friend for being transgender. This is a normal example of microaggression. ‘You’re different the way you are’, ‘have you ever heard about sex?’, ‘ are you the man or the woman in the relationship?’, ‘ I always knew that you are queer’,’why you don’t want to mutilate your body?’, ‘ have plans to adopt children?’- these are some most common microaggressive acts LGBT community face in daily life. Through the time has, the form of microaggression has evolved to different types in the United States of America. Microaggressive acts towards the LGBT community is the most recent one.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie portrays about the experience of an Indian-American 14-year-old boy, Junior. This book focuses on bullying, violence and personal experience of the protagonist in his school life. Junior had faced microaggression for the first time when he went to the dental doctor in his childhood time. He says, “And what’s more, our white dentist believed that Indian’s only felt half as much pain as white people did, so he only gave us half the Novocain. What a bastard, huh?” The doctor’s behavior to Junior was kind of indirect form of microaggression. And the Indian American or Native American usually face these kinds of microaggressive acts in their daily life. Later when Junior moves to a white school, he again faces microaggression in school where he says about his fight with his one white schoolmate named Roger. The conversation in between them was like this, Roger starting “ Did you know that Indians are living proof that niggers fuck buffalo? He says, “I felt like Roger had kicked me in the face….I couldn’t let them get away with that shit. I wasn’t defending myself. I was defending Indians, Black people, and buffalo.” The neighboring white communities were making him feel like he isn’t in that white-dominated society and he tried to defend these micro-aggressive acts by fighting. This usual fun joke or bullying might sound fun to the white neighbor of him but it felt like offended to him disrespecting his identity as an Indian.

The article, “LISTEN : Muslim-American Creator of ‘Ms. Marvel’ Talks Islamophobia, Representation in New Podcast.” by Sameer Rao portrays microaggression existing in this twenty-first century. Islamophobia and suspecting Muslims for any terrorist attack is usual to observe in the United States of America. And isolating the Muslims from politics and social gatherings by thinking them terrorists is an absolute expression of microaggression in society nowadays. Willow Wilson, an American comics writer, has recently released a comic book series named Ms. Marvel: No Normal which portrays microaggression of recent time through the experience of the Muslim American protagonist, Kamala Khan. In this Marvel comic series, the writer Willow Wilson has tried to introduce a Muslim, brown, black hairy female protagonist to speak on behalf of minority artist in the white-dominated field. But the response of the audience was a mixture of excitement and also bitterness. In the time of Islamophobia, a Muslim character in the so popular comic series was really unexpected and unacceptable to the white-dominated society. Microaggression wasn’t only inside the story but the reactions of the audience portrayed the same. In the article stated above, the writer has expressed Willow Wilson’s rough experiences in writing about a Muslim protagonist where it says, “Wilson also addressed how contemporary Islamophobia and discrimination impacts her writing. ”It’s really been about finding a balance between speaking directly to the things that are happening in the political sphere now, the xenophobia, the rise in various forms of racism and the ostracism of people who are not part of the traditional political elite,” So, the ongoing microaggression, Islamophobia, has even worked as a hurdle to a famous comic-book writer.

The journal, “Critical Race Theory, Racial Microaggressions, and Campus Racial Climate: The Experiences of African American College Students”, published on 2000, actually focuses on the racial microaggression experienced by colored students in their school campuses. The journal shows that the form of microaggression has evolved to an indirect and invisible one mainly focusing on the racial microaggression most during the time of 1995-2000. Different researches and interviews of colored students have been made to get the idea about how the racial microaggression still exists in society through white supremacy.  This journal shows the white dominance inside and outside the school campus as it mentions that “An examination of U.S. history reveals that the “color line” of race is a socially constructed category, created to differentiate racial groups and to show the superiority or dominance of one race, in particular, Whites-over other.”(pg 61) . An American professor, Manning Marable, has been mentioned in the journal defining racism as “a system of ignorance, exploitation, and power used to oppress African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Americans, American Indians and other people on the basis of ethnicity, culture, mannerisms, and color” (p. 5). So, this journal mentions about not only African American but also the Asians, Latinos, and Indians. It has also been said in the journal that the colored students face not only racism but also sexism and classism in society. Some examples and experiences of the colored students in the journal conclude that being observed differently make the colored students offended inside or outside the school campus. An African American student shares about her experience of racial microaggression by saying that she had to retake her exam as her teacher suspected her of doing cheating but, she again proves that she’s smart by getting 98. A black student says about the same incident happened to her as she says, ”I was [in the department building] and I was walking down the hallway … [and] one of the teacher’s doors was open… She’s like, “Oh, I should have locked the door. My purse is in there.” I was just [thinking to myself], wow … maybe [she] should have kept that to [herself] or something, like, oh, I reminded you that you should lock your door!”  An invisible form of microaggression still exists in society and this journal shows through the experiences and stories of colored people and how they face this invisible/ indirect form of microaggression.

      In the U.S.A., the segregation and microaggression continued after 1776 through the politics of counting three-fifths of the enslaved African Americans, women’s right to vote, showing discrimination to the immigrants. The Civil Rights Act (1866-1981), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967), 14th amendment of the constitution have been mainly made to wipe out the roots of microaggression or racial segregation from society. But still, the invisible form of microaggression exists in society. Asking a second or third generation of Asian immigrant about how his English is so good, asking a colored person how he/she got the job, clutching the bag tightly after seeing a black guy nearby, ignoring the colored person in an office meeting, staying away from a hijabi girl in a fear of terrorism- still happen in the society of USA. Microaggressive occurrences have totally evolved to an invisible form in the U.S.A. The only way to face microaggression in society is by consistently applying micro-resistance and by having knowledge of being equal. Evaluating everyone, in the same manner, is the first thing to achieve to make America, United America again.


Work citation

“Let America Be America Again, DeWayne Street.” Mission Capital, 23 Aug. 2017,

Jones, Jami. “That’s So Gay! Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community.” Youth Today, 30 Sept. 2015,

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time India

Solorzano, Daniel, et al. “Critical Race Theory, Racial Microaggressions, and Campus Racial Climate: The Experiences of African American College Students.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 69, no. 1/2, 2000, pp. 60–73. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Rao, Sameer. “LISTEN: Muslim-American Creator of ‘Ms. Marvel’ Talks Islamophobia, Representation in New Podcast.” Colorlines, 8 Nov. 2016,


Jackson, Kelly F. “Social Service Review.” Social Service Review, vol. 85, no. 3, 2011, pp. 519–521. JSTOR, JSTOR,