Qualitative Investigation of Mexican-American Experiences of Racial Microaggressions



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Racial microaggressions are the brief, commonplace racial slights and insults that are expressed by Whites against people of color (Sue, Capodilupo et al, 2007). This qualitative study examined previously unexplored area of ethnic-racial microaggressions directed against Mexican-American persons. Through the use of a semi-structured focus group interview, 15 self-identifying Mexican-American university students shared their experiences of microaggressions. Data was collected and analyzed following the guidelines of Consensual Qualitative Research (Hill, Thompson & Williams, 1997), a rigorous method for analyzing qualitative data that involves a team approach in the development and coding of domains and core ideas in order to accurately describe consistencies across cases. Results identified 7 major domains of microaggressions experienced by participants: 1) Assumption of foreigner status, 2) Assumption of criminality, 3) Assumption of inferior social class and/or second class citizenship, 4) Pathologizing cultural values, 5) Invalidation of racial reality, 6) Implied special privileges as a minority group, and 7) Invalidation of interethnic differences. Two additional domains described participant’s emotional experiences of racial microaggressions and strategies employed by participants to cope with aggressive events. Results supported broad domains of racial microaggressions previously identified by other research teams in their research of Black American (Constantine, 2007; Sue, Nadal et al. 2008) and Asian-American (Sue, Bucceri, et al., 2007) experiences of racial microaggressions. Group-specific

messages of racial microaggressions identified within this study include the assumption of illegal immigrant, messages regarding inferior English language skills, and messages pathologizing Mexican-American cultural values and forms of communication, particularly related to the Spanish language and traditional Mexican cultural values of familismo. This evidence supports the hypothesis first proposed by Sue, Capodilupo et al. (2007) that different racial and ethnic groups are vulnerable to experiencing different forms of racial microaggressions.



Racial microaggressions, Mexican Americans, Racism