Defining the term “microaggression” can be tricky, particularly since people sometimes use the term rather loosely. Most commonly, a microaggression involves unintentional conduct that is an external expression of an internal bias. Dog whistles, by contrast, are intentional. The speaker intends to convey a racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory message, but does so by couching the message in innocuous language to avoid alienating the listener.
The term microaggressions comes up frequently for lawyers investigating discrimination and harassment complaints. This has been the case especially since the racial reckoning and racial justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, with workplaces seeing a significant increase in complaints of race-based harassment and hostile work environments.
Vida Thomas explores this topic in her article, “Microaggression Versus Dog Whistle,” which published in the November issue of Comstock’s Magazine. You can read the full article which starts on page 26 of the digital version of the publication.