“Subtle Acts of Exclusion” by Michael Baran and Tiffany Jana
Social scientist, researcher, and Senior Partner and Digital Solutions Lead at inQUEST Michael Baran and TMI Portfolio CEO and academic Tiffany Jana pair as co-authors for the book Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions. It’s a thorough and thoughtful examination of the phenomena of microaggression in our society today, the societal discussion about such issues, and paths towards discouraging such conduct. The authors likewise provide readers with a condensed overview of the different ways exclusionary conduct manifests itself in our world sure to ring true with a wide swath of readers.
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There is a strong personal touch discernible in the authors’ presentation. Baran and, particularly, Jana are unafraid to admit their own human failings in this regard; they too are practitioners of subtle acts of exclusion, otherwise known as SAEs, and their brave mea culpa lends the book a measure of credibility a more strident approach would lack. The portion of the book devoted to detailing the various manifestations of SAE in our society gains much from the authors including the personal experiences of those contending with such behaviors in their own lives and this gives their examination flesh and blood rather than relying on research and theorizing alone.
Despite the prevalence of terminology in the book, Subtle Acts of Exclusion has a down to earth and conversational quality throughout the entirety of the book allowing a cross-section of readers gain something from its pages. Its focus is, for the most part, on workplace behaviors, but the lessons within these pages have universal application – SAEs are multi-faceted and haunt every area of social interaction. Jana and Baran’s book recognizes this essential fact and never attempts glossing over it.
It is a brief book that moves at a fast clip. As I mention earlier, Subtle Acts of Exclusion possesses a loose and slightly informal quality rather than bogging down readers with a flood of footnotes and ornate language. One might argue this is a drawback in certain respects as it might imply a cavalier attitude towards a very serious issue, but a single serious reading of this text undercuts such ideas. They have discovered a way of incorporating extensive research into their work without making it read like a textbook and this is key for accessibility.
The structure of the book underlines this. They construct the book in a very A-Z fashion, but there’s room for readers to move. Once readers cover the initial sections, they can feel free to dip into the text at points of their choosing rather than feeling a demand to read it from beginning to end, You can still gain a great deal from the book this way without feeling as if you are giving its message short shrift.
Baran and Jana certainly never give the subject poor treatment. Instead, Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions is an authoritative text on abiding elements of our lives and human character that, all too often, leave lasting scars on individuals and curtail us from reaching our full potential.