Racial Microaggressions Awareness Program at Academic Institutions

According to a study from Harvard University Voices of Diversity project, Students of Color still face prejudice and discrimination. Unconscious acts of prejudice and discrimination by teachers and peers manifest themselves as “racial microaggressions.” Racial microaggressions in an academic setting are the slights and insults Students of Color experience in their daily interactions with educators and classmates. This creates an unwelcoming environment and is a deterrent to the scholastic performance of Students of Color.

Racial microaggressions are commonplace in teacher/student interactions, especially when there exists a racial incongruence within the teacher/student ratio. However, Students of Color’s emotional and/or psychological experiences with racial microaggressions can seriously undermine their academic achievement. Educators’ unconscious biases play a significant role in how they process their assumptions, interact with Students of Color, and ultimately, engage in racial microaggressions.

Nearly all interracial encounters among Students of Color and administrators, teachers, trainers, and evaluators are prone to the manifestations of racial microaggressions. Teachers are often unaware of the cumulative harm students of color experience from being routinely subjected to a variety of racial microaggressions and are generally not prepared to recognize racial microaggressions when they occur. 

Unfortunately, these exchanges are so pervasive and automatic in daily conversations and interactions, that they are often dismissed and glossed over as being innocent and innocuous, however, even subtle microaggressions toward Students of Color can cause emotional and/or psychological experiences that seriously undermine their academic achievement.

Most school board members, administrators, faculty and staff engage in racial microaggressions and are unaware of the hidden messages communicated by their words and actions, as well as the harm these hidden messages inflict on Students of Color. Without fully understanding the complexity of the issues, most educators simply try their best to accept and acknowledge the different perspectives that come with Students of Color. The common approach is to simply diversify their syllabi to provide what they believe to be a healthy learning experience. Despite these efforts, racial microaggressions are still a prevalent problem for Students of Color.

The solution to diminishing the instances of racial microaggressions depends on an understanding and the recognition of the existence of racial microaggressions and the negative effects that result from these biases. Research shows, once racial microaggressions are recognized, educators can better modify their interactions with Students of Color to ensure their academic success.


The purpose of the Racial Microaggressions Awareness Program is to increase the educator’s awareness of the current research that stems from psychological and sociological literature on racial microaggressions, exercise critical consciousness on the material presented and apply this information in the academic environment. In addition, educators will learn strategies to assist in examining their own cultural biases and assumptions as well as best practices to evoke positive systemic change in their school. 

Racial Microaggressions Awareness Program is an evidence‐based, intensive, and dynamic workshop. This interactive learning opportunity explores: 1) how racial microaggressions develop, 2) how they influence perceptions and decision making, and 3) how to mitigate the effects of racial microaggressions.

Learning Objectives 

  • To understand the origins and foundations of racial microaggressions
  • To recognize and identify racial microaggressions as they occur
  • To increase the participants’ awareness of the psychological effects and negative impact of racial microaggressions on students of color
  • To empower the learner with strategies to manage and reduce racial microaggressions

Target Audience

Racial Microaggressions Awareness Program is a five-part series designed specifically for administrators, educators, and staff. This unique professional development opportunity provides members of the education community with techniques to integrate racial microaggressions training into their organization. 

Estimated Time

Each series of the Racial Microaggressions Awareness Program is 4 hours long. This also allows time for interactive activities, sharing, reflections as well as questions and answers.