What is a Microaggression? Kids want to know.

Defined as any instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group, microaggressions permeate our culture. Whether in schools, workplaces, or communities, and perhaps not necessarily explicitly malicious, they reflect the institutionalized internal systems that propagate racism, homophobia, sexism and discrimination. In short, what seems humorous, innocent or entertaining can still result in harm, and when it comes to microaggressions, reception is more important than intent. 


Urban Improv had the opportunity to explore this complex concept with the students of Bigelow Middle School in Newton Massachusetts. The Urban Improv ensemble and more than 500 6th through 8th grade students gathered under a big tent under sunny and chilly autumn mornings to learn together through improvisation. 


During this multi-week Assembly, our teaching artists portrayed a series of scenes that helped students understand, identify and address microaggressions in their many forms, around the lunch table at school. Students had the chance to embody the bystander, the target, and talk with the perpetrator of a microaggression. Through the experience of each of these roles, they were able to deepen their understanding of how to intervene, deflect, and recognize and disrupt ingrained prejudicial thought patterns.  


If you’d like to have the Urban Improv ensemble visit your school or group to create a more harmonious and positive community environment and to mitigate microaggressions and misunderstandings, let us know! Email Jamie at jullrich@rehearsalforlife.org or check out our Re: Action Assembly page for more information. 


“I felt privileged to be a part of something so empowering, uplifting and validating…” said parent Kori Urayama. One seventh grade student even said it was “one of the best days she had had at Bigelow.”