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Microaggressions in the Workplace

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

On Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Jody Lykes, Ph.D., the Coordinator, African Diaspora Program at UNR, and Rayna van Beuzekom, the VP of Diversity and Inclusion for PRSSA National joined us to talk about how microaggressions in the workplace and in the classroom affect them.

We had a great discussion about addressing in a professional setting when you or someone around you experience a microaggression. Both of our speakers spoke about how at times you should absolutely speak up and defend yourself and others, however, it's necessary to remember in the workplace and even in academia speaking out can lead to retaliation. So remember to pick your battles and take care of yourself as you can.

Dr. Lykes touched on how to react when you cannot make reports, having a support group is incredibly important in dealing with these everyday traumas. Microaggressions can seem like "small" comments, but they can grow and become internalized, causing real damage. Dr. Lykes says microaggressions are a form of violence. He brought up the example of Issa Rae's show Insecure, where Issa's character often has her first reactions to a situation (often, but not always a workplace microaggression) but then she has her "PC" response to keep her job.

When we asked how to respond to someone who says they didn't intend to cause harm or insult you, Van Beuzekom says their initial response is: "You did though". Intent and actions don't match up, and the impact is what matters. She spoke about using their privilege in spaces when classmates or peers were being left out of the conversation. She encourages actively including other students in your space. If you see someone who looks alone or left out, ask them to join conversations. You can watch a recording of the program here.

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