Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Michael Knight


The Civil Rights Act was enacted more than 5 decades ago, and its provisions forbade discrimination on the basis of race in hiring, promoting, and firing. Yet some researchers argue that racial discrimination issues are still prevalent in the United States. They contend that modern racial discrimination is more covert and takes the form of racial microaggressions, which are subtle conscious or unconscious insults and derogatory attitudes directed towards minorities. Researchers have not fully addressed the prevalence of racial microaggressions in U.S. workplaces, however. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of naturalized African-Americans regarding racial microaggressions in U.S. federal agencies. The research problem was examined through the lens of critical race theory. Ten participants from the Social Security Administration were selected using snowball sampling. Data were collected through semi structured phone interviews and then examined using thematic content analysis to identity key concepts and develop a coding structure, from which 9 themes emerged. Findings revealed that participants experienced racial microaggressions in the form of bias, prejudice, false assumptions, nepotism, favoritism, and unfair denial of opportunities for promotion and professional development while at work, which affected their morale and productivity. This study may contribute to positive social change by helping leaders of U.S. federal agencies to understand their multicultural and diverse workforce and work environment. U.S. government officials could also use this study as a basis for policy decisions that may improve racial relations in U.S. federal agencies.