The world’s first encyclopedia for microaggressions, The Micropedia of Microaggressions, launched in December 2021 and has since been used in over 125 countries and been incorporated into countless diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs across public, private and non-profit sectors. A new travelling art exhibit, Worn Down by Words, is now being hosted to further raise awareness of the harmful impact of these everyday slights and what we can do about it.
Microaggressions are often referred to as a death by a thousand paper cuts due to their repetitive nature. This notion inspired the exhibit that includes four provocative pieces, each visualizing the impact these phrases can have on a person’s mental health. Each microaggression is shown outside of a laser cut silhouette: “Where are you really from?”, “That’s so gay,” “She’s such a bitch,” and “Shouldn’t all lives matter?” The silhouette itself is constructed several layers deep of cut paper, demonstrating how words can wear someone down over time. The internalized harm is represented in a final red layer. The series is displayed with a QR code driving to TheMicropedia.org for further learning and prevention.
“The goal has always been to get The Micropedia into as many hands as possible, because anyone can experience, witness, or cause a microaggression,” says Stephanie Yung, Head of Design/ECD at Zulu Alpha Kilo. “By visualizing the impact of microaggressions in a simple and focused way, we’re all able to become more self-aware and empathetic to individuals’ experiences and the power of our words with the ultimate goal of affecting behaviour change.”
The exhibit will be touring different settings, including galleries, schools, workplaces and public spaces. To date, it has been displayed at Remote Gallery, Show Gallery, the Toronto Film School and Humber College.
“When we know better, we can do better,” says Nadine Spencer, President and CEO of the Black Business & Professional Association. “Giving people access to a tool like The Micropedia, is bringing us a step closer to building a more inclusive and welcoming society for all."
“The Micropedia project and the Worn Down by Words exhibit brings to life the damage of microaggressions, adds valuable new knowledge and builds on our extensive research with BBPA and others about the need to increase inclusion of equity-deserving groups within the workplace and within leadership,” said Wendy Cukier of the Diversity Institute which was a collaborator of the Micropedia of Microaggressions and is a lead organization supporting Canadian companies in the 50-30 Challenge to advance gender parity and increased diversity on boards and in senior leadership roles.
The Micropedia of Microaggressions is an initiative created by Zulu Alpha Kilo on behalf of Canada’s leading DEI groups: The Black Business and Professional Association, The Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity, Pride at Work, and Toronto Metropolitan University's Diversity Institute. It has been recognized globally, including two Cannes Lions, a Fusion Pencil at the One Show and a D&AD Graphite Pencil, and is being distributed to over 1,500 organizations participating in the Government of Canada’s 50-30 challenge.
If your organization or workplace is interested in displaying the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.