Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 10, 2021

Microaggressions: What They Are And Why They Matter

Catharine P. Wells (Boston College; Google Scholar), Microaggressions: What They Are and Why They Matter, 24 Tex. Hisp. J.L. & Pol'y 61 (2017):

In this paper, I will talk specifically about the way in which microaggressions affect our students. Law schools are competitive places, and we need to understand microaggressions in this context. In the first section, I will examine some of the harms that microaggressions cause. In the second, I will discuss two forms of microaggression that are present in the law school environment. In each case, I will offer some brief comments about what law schools and law teachers could do to provide a more favorable environment in which all students — and especially students of color — can flourish.


I want to end by reiterating Dr. Pierce's point about microaggressions. The past century has seen real progress in integrating American society. The worst aspects of Jim Crow are dead. De jure segregation is a thing of the past. Many people of color are in the forefront of American political, intellectual, and cultural life. This progress is good, but it is not enough. Minorities continue to pay an unacceptable cost for integration. So long as we subject them to the endless gauntlet of microaggression, we have not achieved full equality. As Dr. Pierce says, this is "the essential ingredient" for success. Oddly, this last part is not the hardest part of the process. The first stage has involved changing society, facing conflict, and making room for people of color in our social systems. The second stage requires only that we discard worn-out ideologies.

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