Let's Talk About Race:
Navigating Microaggressions

Journal Entries

About this document


At key moments in the Bodyswaps experience, useful notes are added to the learner’s virtual journal as a memory prompt that they can refer back to, as and when required. 

In VR, learners access their journal by looking at their avatar’s left hand. On other devices, it can be accessed via a ‘burger menu’ in the top left corner of the screen. 

This document collates the journal entries in relation to the individual activities for this course.

Introduction and self-reflection

Navigating Microaggressions

Navigating Microaggressions


Recognize and challenge microaggressions


  • Reflect on your attitude towards microaggressions
  • Uncover hidden microaggressions
  • Call out microaggressions where you see them
  • Help others to recognize the harmful impact of their microaggressions


  • Intentional or unintentional everyday slights, snubs or insults towards marginalized people 
  • Communicate hostile, derogatory or negative systemic racism
  • Can have a harmful or unpleasant psychological impact on the target person or group

Microaggressions and you

Being accountable

Share in the responsibility

  • Microaggressions are never harmless
  • They can significantly affect someone's mental and emotional wellbeing 
  • Staying silent makes you part of the problem   
  • It's everyone's place to say something

Identifying microaggressions

Common microaggressions

Types of microaggression

  • Microassaults - Deliberate race-based insults and slurs.
  • Microinsults - Subtle rudeness and insensitivities that demean a person’s racial heritage or identity
  • Microinvalidations - Excluding, negating and nullifying the thoughts, feelings or experiences of racialized people

Touching someone’s hair

Having their hair touched by others is a common experience for many Black people. 

Touching someone’s hair without asking - or asking with the expectation that the answer will be yes - signals entitlement for the ‘toucher’. 

It’s patronizing and dehumanizing to expect another person to stand there and be petted like a dog. 

It’s also an extension of the ‘othering’ that majority groups place on minorities. It says, “you’re different from us, let us examine you like an exhibit in a museum.”

Model minority myth

Refers to a minoritized group, or a member of such a group stereotypically viewed as being more successful than other such groups or individuals. It is most often applied to people of Asian ancestry.

For example, assuming an Asian student is an outstanding, straight A student just because they’re Asian.

Immigrant in own country

When visibly racialized people are assumed to be foreign-born and someone makes a comment to them like, “You speak good English.”  

Or a person asking an Asian American to teach them words in their native language.

Myth of meritocracy

Statements which assert that race does not play a role in life successes. For example, “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough” implies that marginalized people need to just work harder.

Colour Blindness

Statements that indicate that a person does not want to acknowledge race or denying a person of colour’s racial  or ethnic experiences. 

For example, “When I look at you, I don’t see colour or “There is only one race, the human race.”

Stepping up

Calling out microaggressions


If you’re going to challenge a microaggression, consider using this approach: 

  • Disarm - be empathetic
  • Withhold judgement - focus on the microaggression, not the perpetrator
  • Use I statements - speak only for yourself
  • Raise awareness - compassionately educate perpetrators when possible
  • Challenge misperceptions - keep discussions open and unambiguous, stick to the facts and keep challenging the perpetrator’s misperceptions

Be disarming

  • Be disarming and non-confrontational  
  • Confrontation is often met with denial
  • Be empathetic - let the other person know it’s an uncomfortable situation for you both

Withholding judgement

  • Challenge the microaggression and not the perpetrator 
  • Don’t name-call - it will shut down constructive conversation
  • Model respectful behaviour - focus on the microaggressions not the individual

Using ‘I’ statements

  • You have a chance to make an impact as an objective bystander 
  • Speak only on behalf of yourself
  • Don’t make assumptions about anyone else’s experience

Raise awareness

  • Where possible, always discuss microaggressions with a perpetrator
  • Take the burden off the targets - become their ally

Challenge misperceptions

  • Use clear, unambiguous language
  • Stick to facts to turn a perpetrator’s thinking around