About

Welcome to The Micropedia

This community is on a mission to help people learn about microaggressions without fear of judgement. The Micropedia aims to collect everyday microaggressions and highlight their harmful impact through source-based definitions and real-world examples.

We know that our actions and the things we say matter - they have an impact on whether people feel included and respected, and they can sometimes play a role in upholding stereotypes and biases. Each of us has a responsibility to be mindful of how our words and actions impact others. This means addressing microaggressions in our everyday lives.

As no two people or experiences are the same, this resource will be ever evolving. Some may find that many different categories apply to them, and while our categories are not a comprehensive list, they do reflect some of the most common groups experiencing microaggressions.

This tool and community will continue to grow in the hopes that anyone can unlearn their bias and continue their journey towards preventing them.

Partners

The Micropedia is a collaborative project built with the help of partnerships with community organizations. We are proud to count the participation of the following organizations who provided their knowledge and expertise in creating a resource that reflects a broad diversity of experiences. 

Contact

If you’re interested in becoming a partner or if you have questions, feedback, or suggestions, please get in touch.

contact@themicropedia.org

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Add a microaggression

Microaggressions take many forms. We want to make sure every experience is heard. If you have one to share, feel free to submit a new microaggression entry.

Submission Guidelines
Please title your microaggression entry
Please describe why this microaggression is harmful
Please select at least one category
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Guidelines

How to write an entry title.

  • Write in third person

  • Keep it 60 characters or under

  • For non-verbal microaggressions: give a concise description consistent with other titles of the same category

  • Broad enough to apply to more than a specific scenario – should describe a behaviour / environment and not a specific instance

  • Can add distinguishing details to add context when necessary

  • Do this: “Crossing the street to avoid a racialized person.” Not this: “When you see a racialized person, you cross the street to avoid them.”

  • Do this: “Where are you really from?” Not this: “Asking someone where are you really from?”

How to write an entry definition.

  • Write in third person

  • Start each definition with a qualifier (i.e., “This comment…”, “This phrase…”, “This behaviour…”, etc.)

  • Do not include opinions or personal stories

  • Include: what the microaggression does, whether it's rooted in a stereotype, and what kind of impact it has

  • Also include sources to back up your definition or effects/harm claims

  • Don’t speak for an entire by using definitive statements (i.e., “This makes all people feel…”)

  • Instead say things like “this can make people feel…”

  • Write the definition in as simplest terms as possible – don’t use overly academic words

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The Micropedia

Start browsing this resource to learn more about microaggressions and their impact.

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Resources

What are microaggressions?

Microaggressions are the everyday slights, indignities and insults experienced by marginalized groups as the result of implicit bias.

How to prevent microaggressions.

The resources below will give you a more thorough, academic breakdown of microaggressions to help you better understand this issue. These resources will help you define microaggressions and see examples of their impact on society’s mental and physical health.

Resource links

Learn about microaggressions

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Definition

What are microaggressions?

(def.) Microaggressions are everyday snubs and insults that marginalized groups face. They're often very subtle comments or actions that come from implicit bias and/or stereotypes. They might seem like a compliment (“You're beautiful for a transgender girl”), a harmless comment (“Where are you really from?”), or a subconscious action (crossing the street to avoid a racialized person).

Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional, and are both a product of stereotypes/biases, while simultaneously perpetuating them. They can hurt one's feelings, diminish one's self-confidence, impact one's mental health, etc. Microaggressions also have macro-level impacts. The act of constantly and openly perpetuating stereotypes and putting someone down can reinforce barriers in one's life (including in the workplace, when accessing leadership roles, and others).

No two people or experiences are the same. Some may find that many different categories apply to them when it comes to their experiences with microaggressions.

Tips

How do I address microaggressions?

Whether you’ve observed, received, or delivered a microaggression, the situation is uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. The tips below will give you the tools to help better navigate the microaggression.

  • What to do to avoid causing a microaggression.

    When you meet someone new, your brain instinctively begins to categorize the person and notice differences. It’s when our brains get “stuck” in these differences that microaggressions happen. Here are some helpful tips to avoid getting stuck.

    Tips from researchers.
    1. 1. Pause

      Don’t be in a rush to speak or act. Pause before asking someone a personal question. Pause before you describe a person’s personality a certain way. Pause before you make a comparison between someone and something else you’ve seen. These simple thoughts and moments are where bias lives so taking a second to think about it makes all the difference.

    2. 2. Question

      Ask yourself these important questions. Is your brain getting stuck on differences that you’re noticing? Are they triggering things that you subconsciously believe? Are you making assumptions because of these beliefs? What will the person I’m interacting with feel or think when I say or do this? Awareness of our own bias comes when we answer these questions for ourselves.

    3. 3. Reframe

      See the bigger picture. Sit in the uncomfortableness of your questions. List the things you can do to change your thoughts and behaviours. This could include researching other cultures and the history of certain phrases to acknowledging the systems that give you privilege to removing offensive phrases from your vocabulary one by one. Stop your defensive thoughts. Acknowledge that you can cause microaggressions, but it doesn’t make you a bad person. Unlearning bias won’t happen overnight.

    see more resources
  • What to do when you’ve received a microaggression.

    There is no single correct way to respond to microaggressions, but here are some helpful tips from researchers to consider.

    Tips from researchers.
    1. 1. Determine

      Do you respond? You don’t have to. Addressing a microaggression takes effort and you’re not obliged to do it. Is the person important to you? Will speaking up or staying silent have consequences? Think about how you feel and whether the effort is worth it for you.

    2. 2. Disarm

      How do you have this conversation? You may need to help that person through the process. When people are called out, it’s in their nature to feel defensive. Help them understand that these kinds of conversations can be uncomfortable for everyone but that it’s worth it to you both to openly discuss it.

    3. 3. Defy

      What if you asked for clarification? One of the best ways to get people thinking about what they said or did is to ask them to clarify what they meant by it. That opens the door for you to discuss intent vs. impact and help them understand how their bias affects their thoughts and actions.

    4. 4. Decide

      What can you control? It won’t be what people say/do to you, but you can control what you take from the situation and what it takes from you. Protecting your happiness and who you are is the most important thing.

    see more resources
  • What to do when you’ve caused a microaggression.

    Take a moment to breathe. Everyone has caused a microaggression at some point and it’s never an easy situation.

    Tips from researchers.
    1. 1. Pause

      Take a moment to breathe. You may be feeling stress, embarrassment and defensive, but don’t let that dictate how you respond. Your mistake doesn’t make you a bad person. If someone has called you out, it means they care enough or trust that you can do better.

    2. 2. Listen

      Make this your priority. Be open to what the person you’ve harmed is telling you and make sure they feel heard. Think of this conversation as a chance to start over. Someone is giving you the opportunity to learn, grow, and be better.

    3. 3. Apologize

      Try not to be defensive. Be sincere. Your apology should address the harmful comment / action, acknowledge the impact it had, and include a commitment to do better. Never say, “I’m sorry you felt offended.” – it doesn’t count!

    4. 4. Learn

      Do the work. Learn about implicit bias and the impact of microaggressions. Understand that you aren’t the first to cause harm to this person. The more you know, the less likely you are to make the mistake again.

    see more resources