ISU discussion to highlight microaggressions

Rick Ringer will lead several discussions in the fall, one of which will cover the topic of microaggressions. (WJBC File Photo)

By Patrick Baron

BLOOMINGTON – While being outwardly offensive towards someone isn’t allowed in the workplace, the idea of microaggressions brings up new questions for what is or isn’t appropriate to say to someone.

A microaggression is a phrase or question that can be perceived as offensive or hurtful. Microaggressions will be one of the topics discussed this fall during the Business School’s leadership breakfasts. Organizational Leadership Institute director and Illinois State University professor Rick Ringer told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin microaggressions can upset someone, even if unintentionally.

“They’re not malicious, but they create feelings like ‘I don’t belong here, I’m different, I’m out of the ordinary, I’m not part of the in-group’,” Ringer explained.

Ringer also said the concept of microaggressions raises many questions itself.

“It’s a really fascinating topic,” said Ringer. “Are they real? If so, what do we do about it? Can we do anything about it? Are we overreacting to simple politeness? Are we making a big deal out of nothing? Or are these really legitimate issues?”

Ringer explained asking someone of color what country they are from is an example of a potential microaggression.

Patrick Baron can be reached at patrick.baron@cumulus.com.

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