Microaggressions, Questionable Science, and Free Speech

47 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2021 Last revised: 23 Apr 2021

See all articles by Edward Cantu

Edward Cantu

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Lee Jussim

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 1, 2021

Abstract

The topic of microaggressions is hot currently. Diversity administrators regularly propagate lists of alleged microaggressions and express confidence that listed items reflect what some psychologists claim they do: racism that is, at the very least, unconscious in the mind of the speaker. Legal academics are increasingly leveraging microaggression research in theorizing law and proposing legal change. But how scientifically legitimate are claims by some psychologists about what acts constitute microaggressions? The authors—one a law professor, the other a psychologist—argue that the answer is “not much.” In this article, the authors dissect the studies, and critique the claims, of microaggression researchers. They then explore the ideological glue that seems to hold the current microaggression construct together, and that best explains its propagative success. They close by warning of the socially caustic and legally pernicious effects the current microaggression construct can cause if academics, administrators, and the broader culture continue to subscribe to it without healthy skepticism.

Keywords: microaggressions, critical race theory

Suggested Citation

Cantu, Edward and Jussim, Lee, Microaggressions, Questionable Science, and Free Speech (February 1, 2021). Texas Review of Law & Politics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3822628

Edward Cantu (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Lee Jussim

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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