Fresh off the boat? Racial microaggressions that target South Asian Canadian students

Gauthamie Poolokasingham, Lisa Spanierman, Sela Kleiman, Sara Houshmand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The present study sought to examine South Asian Canadian undergraduate students' (N = 7) experiences with racial microaggressions at a research-intensive Canadian university. Participants ranged in age from 19-23 years and comprised various ethnic groups (e.g., Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, and Tamil). Data were collected during a semistructured focus group interview and were analyzed using the consensual qualitative research method (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997). Eight themes emerged. Novel themes included the following: perceived as fresh off the boat, excluded from social life, notion that being Brown is a liability, assumption of ties to terrorism, and compelled to be a cultural expert. Three additional themes were consistent with prior research on Asian Americans (Sue, Bucceri, Lin, Nadal, & Torino, 2007): ascription of intelligence in stereotypical domains, invalidation of interethnic and racial differences, and treated as invisible. Implications for research and campus interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-210
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Racial microaggressions
  • Racism in higher education
  • South Asian Canadians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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