racial, gender, and sexual-orientation microaggressions
African American psychologist, in the late 1970s produced the first edition of his now classic book Even the Rat Was White, which took psychology to task for being primarily a White Eurocentric field, neglecting the contributions of people of color in historical storytelling, and for unintentionally elevating the contributions of one group (primarily White males), while denigrating Asian, African, and Latin American contributors through “benign neglect.” The hidden message to students of color was that American psychology is supe- rior (other psychologies are inferior), that it is universal, and that students of color should accept this “reality.” White students are affirmed in this curricu- lum, but students of color feel that their identities are constantly assailed in the classroom. Black students are likely to expend considerable emotional energy protecting their own integrity while at the same time being distracted from fully engaging in the learning process (Sue, Lin, Torino, Capodilupo, & Rivera, 2009).
Second, Professor Richardson seems to equate rational discourse with approaching topics in a calm and objective manner. When he tells the Black student to “calm down” or implies that they are “too emotional,” the Professor may unintentionally be delivering another racial microaggression with mul- tiple hidden fears, assumptions, and biased values: (a) Blacks are prone to emotional outbursts, can get out of control, and may become violent; (b) emo- tion is antagonistic to reason and conversations should be unemotional and objective in the classroom; and (c) the communication style of many Blacks is dysfunctional and should be discouraged (Sue & Sue, 2008). Pathologizing Black communication and learning styles has been identified as a common microaggression directed toward African Americans (Constantine & Sue, 2007; Sue, Capodilupo, Nadal, et al., 2008). Studies suggest that communica- tion and learning styles of Black Americans may differ from those of Whites (DePaulo, 1992; Kochman, 1981); for example, affect, emotion, and passion are considered positive attributes of the communication process because they indicate sincere interest and seriousness toward the material or subject matter, while objectivity and unemotional responses indicate insincerity and lack of connection.
Third, Professor Richardson’s compliment toward Justin’s intelligent analysis of both perspectives and his ability to articulate the issues well was found to be offensive by some of the Black students. Why? To answer this question requires an understanding of historical racial stereotypes and their interactional dynamics. This situation is very similar to what occurred in the 2007 to 2008 democratic presidential primaries when both Senators Joe