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College of Arts & Sciences

Project Description

Systems of repression are maintained in the United States through institutionalized processes (e.g., formal laws and policies) and overtly discriminatory practices (e.g., unfair hiring and housing decisions). Yet inequality is also reproduced and felt through everyday slights that reify hurtful stereotypes about one’s group memberships via informally condoned speech, behavior, and symbols (e.g., jokes, cultural appropriation, and team mascots). These frequently overlooked or rationalized moments of indignity are known as microaggressions. While the negative impact of microaggressions on members of marginalized groups is well-documented, less is known about how their impact varies across differing racial/ethnic contexts.

In this study, we investigate 1) how college students of color experience and navigate microaggressions in predominantly white (PWI) and Hispanic serving (HSI) institutional and community settings; and 2) how these experiences shape both academic and non-academic outcomes. We employ intersectional and comparative approaches to explore the dynamic and complex ways in which race/ethnicity intersects with other key status dimensions such as skin tone, gender, class, nativity, sexuality, and disability within and across groups as well as within and across institutions/locations.

To study microaggressions holistically, we draw on both quantitative and qualitative research methods and apply a longitudinal design. The quantitative portion of the project includes developing a survey instrument to be deployed across multiple college campuses and neighboring communities. Survey data will provide detailed information to compare and contrast experiences of microaggressions across sociodemographic, academic, economic, and political characteristics and measure their impact on academic (e.g., GPA and time to degree) and non-academic outcomes (e.g., campus/community engagement and stress). The qualitative portion of the project includes individual and focus group interviews. These interviews will contextualize the experience and impact of microaggressions, allowing us to tease out fundamental processes that produce and sustain inequality.

Affiliated Researchers