Micro and Macro Aggressions in the Workplace

Here at Guide to HR, we spend a lot of time discussing how we can be better in the workplace and in general. We believe that there is a place for everyone, and we should all be treated with dignity and respect. As we continue to celebrate and spread more awareness about Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought it would be appropriate to share about micro and macro aggression BIPOC experience in and out of the workplace and how it has an impact on their mental health.


Microaggression is a comment or action that subtly expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, such as a racial minority. Microaggressive comments or actions can sometimes be unintentionally offensive, or they can unconsciously reinforce stereotypes. Examples of microaggressive comments and actions include:


  1. “You speak English really well,”—with the pretense that the ethnic person who “speaks English well” is not American-born. This also reinforces the stereotype that people from the BIPOC community do not speak English well.
  2. “I don’t see you as Black.” — What exactly is wrong with being seen as Black? This comment reinforces the racial bias that “being Black is wrong” and all Black people are the same or less than.
  3. “You’re so exotic” – Implying their ethnic beauty or appearance is out of the normal or the European standard beauty.


Some microaggressive actions include:


  1. Asking the Japanese person in your workgroup to solve a math problem because “all Japanese people are good at math” 
  2. Denying that racism exists
  3. Denying someone’s experience of microaggression
  4. Asking a Black person if you can touch their hair – this happens more often than you think.


You can learn more about microaggression here: Medical News Today or watch the video below.


Macroaggressions, on the other hand, are similar to microaggressions, but on a much larger scale. Microaggression is an act of racism, sexism, etc. towards everyone a part of a particular race, gender, or group. For example, if you recall, in 2020, Asian hate crimes increased due to misinformation about Covid-19. 


BIPOC who experience both macro and micro aggressions experience different levels of anxiety, pressure, esteem, stress, and more. It has a major impact on their mental health. These aggressions not only affect how likely they are to get a job, but it also affects them once they are employed. 


People of color are not only judged by their skin color but they are also judged by how their hair naturally grows out of their heads. They are less likely to get a job and may even be told to change their hair in order to keep their job. This issue is so aggressive that a law had to be passed in order to protect them while looking for employment and trying to maintain employment. 

So What Needs to Change?

For starters, we will always encourage you to do the work of educating yourself, but do not just stop there. You can become an ally and educate others. Educate your family to break the generations of harmful biases that have infected our nation. 


Another thing you can do is put your ego aside. Our ego or pride is meant to protect us, but sometimes it gets in the way of growth. This can lead us to become defensive, leading us to not listen to learn from others’ experiences. The best thing you can do is listen to learn and understand. No one is attacking you. Allow yourself to be educated.


Something else we think is important to do is not minimize someone else’s experience. We all have different experiences, and we all see the world differently. What you know and understand does not apply to everyone else’s experiences. Allow yourself to be open to others’ realities.


We are so happy to continue learning and growing in order to make life better for those around us. If we truly care, we will listen and try to understand the pain of others. That is one way we can all minimize the negative impact on the mental health of the BIPOC community.

Need More Help?

We will continue to educate ourselves and share what we learn. If you have not already, subscribe, and remember, we are here if you need anything


Happy Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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