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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2009 Apr;15(2):183-90. doi: 10.1037/a0014191.

Racial microaggressions and difficult dialogues on race in the classroom.

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  • 1Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


A qualitative study supports the observation that difficult dialogues on race and racism are often triggered by racial microaggressions that make their appearance in classroom encounters or educational activities and materials. Difficult dialogues are filled with strong powerful emotions that may prove problematic to both students and teachers. When poorly handled by teachers, difficult dialogues can assail the personal integrity of students of color while reinforcing biased worldviews of White students. The success or failure of facilitating difficult dialogues on race is intimately linked to the characteristics and actions of instructors and their ability to recognize racial microaggressions. Implications regarding specific education and training recommendations are presented.

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