By Sandy Yee
In a world full of diversity often come racial disputes, which can also be identified as racial micro aggressions, forms of subtle discrimination. Because they’re so subtle, not everyone realizes that they happen. People assume that discrimination equals hate crimes, violence, and racial slurs.
However, treating others differently is also considered a form of racial discrimination.
A Ph.D. student at the University of Washington (UW), Jennifer Wang, focuses her research on racial micro aggressions and their impact on emotional health.
Some background information about Wang is that she was born in Seattle and grew up in Redmond. Jennifer became interested in race issues when she began taking American ethnic studies classes as an undergraduate at the UW. She enjoyed doing research and teaching about diversity, race, and psychology.
As a graduate student, she has taught classes on racism and Asian American psychology at the UW.
In an experimental study on racial micro aggressions, Jennifer and a team of experts had Asian American and white American participants read and imagine themselves in 12 situations that involved differential treatment potentially related to race, such as social class and gender.
An example of a situation was imagining that you enter a store and you notice that store employees greet other customers but don’t greet you. The participants answered for each situation with their emotional reactions (e.g., anger, sadness, shame, anxiety) and the likelihood the situation happened due to different reasons (e.g., race, gender, social class, etc.).
They discovered that Asian Americans were much more likely than white Americans to think that the situations were due to their race. Furthermore, they found that when both Asian Americans and white Americans thought about their race in these situations, Asian Americans reported greater anger, sadness, shame, and anxiety, whereas white Americans did not report greater negative emotions.
An interesting side note is that both Asian Americans and white Americans were equally familiar with each of the given situations. This suggests that these situations are common, but that they have a detrimental impact for Asian Americans and not for white Americans.
I would like to thank Jennifer Wang for informing us about her study of racial micro aggressions. I hope this offered you a new perspective for your life. ♦
Editor’s note: Northwest Asian Weekly was unable to verify all the facts stated in this article. The ideas here do not necessarily represent our stance.