Political Speech as a Weapon

Microaggression in a Changing Racial and Ethnic Environment

by Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman


In August of 2015, Scott and Steve Leader, brothers from South Boston, violently beat a homeless Latino American man without provocation. Police indicated that one of the brothers cited then–Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's stance on immigration as motivation for the brutal attack.

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Cover image for Political Speech as a Weapon

September 2018


Pages 154
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/General
  Current Events and Issues/Society

Provides a penetrating examination of how political rhetoric from public officials creates tensions via microaggression cues due to changing demographics, campaign rhetoric, and the use of social media.

What are microaggression cues, and what are examples of those cues in political rhetoric? How have microaggression cues from former presidents, elected officials, political candidates, and former candidate, now President, Trump led to further polarization of America's citizens? What are the connections between these microaggression cues, the demographic shift of the United States, and the growing fear among longtime majority populations?

Political Speech as a Weapon: Microaggression in a Changing Racial and Ethnic Environment answers these questions and helps readers understand related topics such as nativism, the transformation process of the U.S. population and cultural norms, and how Americans can best respond to evolving conditions to meet these challenges. Author Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman addresses a blind spot in the field of American politics and connects hostile rhetoric by public officials to the effect of such rhetoric, which leads to the marginalization of groups and a polarizing cultural environment. The book specifically focuses on the role of political rhetoric as a microaggression cue and clearly illustrates how these cues are a well established—and damaging—component of U.S. political culture.


  • Explains how hostile rhetoric by public officials can lead to the marginalization of groups and a polarizing environment
  • Suggests that political discourse is used to accentuate cultural differences due to changing demographics in the United States
  • Illustrates that microaggression cues are a pervasive and damaging component of the U.S. political culture
  • Appropriate reading for anyone interested in or students of modern social movements, U.S. media and politics, race and ethnicity, political behavior, social psychology, and Latino American or African American studies
Author Info

Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman, PhD, is assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, TX.



"Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman offers a unique and much-needed perspective on microaggressions as they are used in political rhetoric. Through content and historical analyses as well as in-depth interviews with contemporary politicians, she presents a cogent argument that political microaggressions create an 'us versus them' frame in the minds of American voters. She also applies the position to the case of President Donald Trump, offering a highly plausible explanation of how the president is able to use microaggressions with impunity in his communications with the American population. This is an essential book for anyone trying to make sense of today's current political rhetoric."—Gina C. Torino, PhD, SUNY Empire State College, and editor of Microaggression Theory: Influence and Implications

"Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman's examination of historical and contemporary forms of hostile rhetoric used in elections delivers a powerful argument about the current political climate of our nation. This book provides readers with cases on how microgressions incite and ignite divisiveness in political forums and communities by highlighting the most recent election and campaigning tactics used to disarm opponents. Narratives from local, state, and national officials lay a foundation for the author's theoretical approaches and deeper implications regarding race relations and societal conflict in America."—Lakia M. Scott, Assistant Professor of Urban Education and Literacy, Baylor University

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