Offensive or Not

Examining the Impact of Racial Microaggressions


  • Brea M. Banks Illinois State University
  • Steve E. Landau Illinois State University



microaggression, racism, higher education, identity


Although the literature suggests that there exist harmful consequences of microaggression, some researchers argue that the state of the current literature lacks evidence that these indignities are in fact offensive to individuals holding marginalized identities. To address this gap, researchers sought to examine the perspectives of university students, as individuals at a Predominantly White Institution provided ratings to indicate their experiences with and interpretation of verbal racial insults that had been previously identified as microaggressive by previous researchers. Results demonstrate that there are differences in how university students interpret microaggressions. Specifically, the obtained data suggest that race, gender, sexual orientation, and prior exposure to the microaggressions are significant predictors to one’s interpretation of them as offensive or insulting. 


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Author Biographies

Brea M. Banks, Illinois State University

BREA M. BANKS, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Illinois. Her research interests include the cognitive consequences of microaggression and student of color experiences in higher education.

Steve E. Landau, Illinois State University

STEVE E. LANDAU is a Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University with interest in children’s externalizing behavior disorders and disturbed peer relations.