Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalised groups.

This activity is great for ages 14 and up including adults.
(Scouting: Explorer/Vetnure/Network/Rover/Adult sections)

This activity is intended to develop discussion with participants to recognise how different audiences can interpret language and react to microaggressions. It teaches participants to understand the implications of their speech, particularly speech combined with privilege.

Objectives

Participants will learn to identify microaggressions and will be able to reflect on how they can modify questions or comments in ways that are less likely to reflect stereotypic assumptions and beliefs. Using two versions of the worksheet provides more examples for participants to consider, but the activity works equally well with the alternative versions. It is important to read the delivery notes below fully to get the most from this activity as microagressions is a complex area of inclusion.

Preparation

This activity works best with a group size of 20 or less, but could be modified for larger class by having participants work in groups.  For larger classes, the trainer can rotate among the groups during discussion and/or have teaching assistants facilitate discussion in the smaller groups.

  • Print out the sheets below (from image or PDF download link below)
  • Cut out the boxes, but ensure that the version numbers are not mixed up

Instructions

  • This activity will be more effective if the presenter first defines microaggressions and provides examples of how they operate. 
  • When people discuss microaggressions, a common response is that they are “innocent acts, or banter” and that the person who experiences them should “let go of the incident” and “not make a big deal out of it.” Ask if the group agree or disagree with this point of view? Explain the reasoning, microgressions are often considered wearing down as a thousands cuts.
  • Then, pass out the cards so that different groups have different variation, but that all their cards are from the same variation.
    (Variations 1 to 5 are below)
  • Ask the groups to match up the cards:
    Microagression + “Possible Interpretation + Possible Intent + Interperation/Imact.
  • Either work through with the whole group on their collective answers or ask for ones they felt challenging to work through.

This activity counts towards the following Global Sustainable Development Goals