Clinical Center News
May / June 2024

Microaggressions: Strategies for Change

Medical staff meeting

Seeking to cultivate a culture of teamwork and collaboration, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Advisory Committee (DEIAAC) has sponsored a series of events to foster healthy workplace dynamics.

In January, Dr. Christine Piggee, a scientific diversity advisor in the Office of the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, led an interactive workshop for CC staff entitled, "Microaggressions: Strategies for Change."

Microaggression is "… an everyday verbal or nonverbal slight, snub or insult—whether intentional or not—that communicates a negative message to a person based on their membership in a marginalized group," Piggee said, citing Deral W. Sue.

She noted that microaggressions are something experienced and defined from the perspective of the receiver and sometimes occur with no conscious malice intended by the perpetrator.

Piggee offered strategies for responding to microaggression, saying it is typically best to be direct and unambiguous, even though microaggression can be jarring to experience. Effective responses include, "Are you saying all ___ are ___?" and "When you said _____, that made me uncomfortable."

Piggee said it is important to consider whether it makes sense to respond publicly or privately, and whether there are situational consequences that make a response unnecessary.

Learn more about Clinical Center Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Program.

- Dan Silber

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