racial, gender, and sexual-orientation microaggressions
these include racial profiling, segregated churches and neighborhoods, discriminatory hiring and promotion practices, and educational curricula that ignore and distort the history of minorities. Institutional bias is often masked in the policies of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are applied equally to everyone, but which have outcomes that disadvantage cer- tain groups while advantaging others.
Cultural racism is perhaps the most insidious and damaging form of racism because it serves as an overarching umbrella under which individual and institutional racism thrives. It is defined as the individual and institutional expression of the superiority of one group’s cultural heritage (arts/crafts, history, traditions, language, and values) over another group’s, and the power to impose those standards upon other groups (Sue, 2004). For example, Native Americans have at times been forbidden to practice their religions (“We are a Christian people”) or to speak in their native tongues (“English is superior”), and in contemporary textbooks the histories or contributions of people of color have been neglected or distorted (“Western history and civilization are superior”). These are all examples of cultural racism.
As awareness of overt racism has increased, however, people have become more sophisticated in recognizing the overt expressions of individual, institu- tional, and cultural bigotry and discrimination. Because of our belief in equality and democracy, and because of the Civil Rights movement, we as a nation now strongly condemn racist, sexist, and heterosexist acts because they are antithetical to our stated values of fairness, justice, and nondiscrimination (Dovidio, Gaertner, Kawakami, & Hodson, 2002; Sears, 1988). Unfortunately, this statement may apply only at the conscious level.
The Changing Face of Racism
Although overt expressions of racism (hate crimes, physical assaults, use of racial epithets, and blatant discriminatory acts) may have declined, some argue that its expression has morphed into a more contemporary and insidious form that hides in our cultural assumptions/beliefs/values, in our institutional policies and practices, and in the deeper psychological recesses of our individ- ual psyches (DeVos & Banaji, 2005; Dovidio, Gaertner, Kawakami, & Hodson 2002; Nelson, 2006; Sue, Capodilupo, Nadal, & Torino, 2008). In other words, race experts believe that racism has become invisible, subtle, and more indirect, operating below the level of conscious awareness, and continuing to oppress in unseen ways. This contemporary manifestation has various names: symbolic