‘Nice skirt!’ ‘Where did you learn English?’ How to respond to microaggressions at work

Derald Wing Sue was born in Portland, Ore. That doesn’t stop people from complimenting his grasp of English.

“I usually will reply with, ‘Thank you; I hope so. I was born here,’” Sue, who is Asian-American, told MarketWatch.

Sue, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University who studies microaggressions, understands that such remarks are often well-intentioned. “They see it as a compliment,” he said. “They are unaware that they’re sending me what we call a metacommunication, a hidden communication, which is that you are a perpetual alien in your own country.”

Microaggressions are the everyday slights that well-intentioned individuals deliver toward certain people, especially people of color.

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