CHRO Connects: Understanding Microaggressions

On October 9, 2014 Civil Rights Policy Fellow Danielle Caron attended a workshop by Salons at Stowe at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, CT. Dr. William A. Howe, Education Consultant at the Connecticut State Department of Education was the facilitator of the workshop. The workshop was well attended by a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life and brought thoughtful discussion to the group at large. Racial microaggressions occur in the everyday lives of people of color and therefore have become common-place. These microaggressions have been defined as;

“The brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. These messages may be sent verbally, non-verbally, or environmentally. Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators.”

The group then went on to assess examples of microaggressions committed regularly and shared personal experiences of bias. The workshop concluded with an activity. The group split into smaller units who acted as a mock-hiring team at a school. They were then given notes on seventeen fictional applicants for teaching positions. From there, the group had to unanimously decide on the seven fictional applicants who would be offered jobs with the “school.” With this information, we were able to identify certain biases we held toward the fictional applicants. This led to a powerful group discussion about our own microaggressions. Through discussion, subconscious biases became conscious and the participants left the workshop with a heightened sense of mindfulness.

The CHRO would like to thank the Stowe House, Immanuel Congregational Church, and Dr. Howe for facilitating this workshop. It is educational outreach like this that will contribute greatly toward eliminating discrimination.