Microaggression - Student Affairs
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MICROAGGRESSIONS & OUR STUDENTS UA Student Affairs Symposium 2012
HANNAH LOZON, Coordinator of Social Justice Education JANET RICO UHRIG, Coordinator of Desk and Summer Operations SPENSER DARDEN, Graduate Community Director
Today’s Learning Outcomes 1) Define, explore examples, and create awareness of microaggressions 2) Provide student affairs staff the opportunity to reflect on the impact of microaggressions on retention at UA 3) Discuss strategies to minimize the impact of microaggressions
Social Justice Terminology • Diversity = The presence of difference. • Social Justice = The process of social justice
involves an equitable distribution of resources, equal access to those resources, and participation from all members of society. The goal of social justice is the full and equal participation of all groups in a society shaped to meet their needs.
Social Justice Terminology •
Identity = Aspects & characteristics that make up our definition of self (individual identities); what aspects & characteristics society defines us by (group identities). o Dominant = Those identities that experiences privilege. o Subordinate= Those identities that experience oppression.
• Privilege = Unearned, unasked for, often invisible benefits and advantages only readily available to agent groups. • Oppression = The systematic subjugation of subordinated groups by those with social power (privileged groups). Privilege + Power = Oppression. Definitions adapted from: Adams, M., Bell, L. A., & Griffin, P. (Eds.) (2007) Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice 2nd Edition
Levels of Oppression Cultural
Adapted from: Adams, M., Bell, L. A., & Griffin, P. (Eds.) Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice 2nd Edition
Individual Oppression: Personal attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that maintain and perpetuate oppression. • Examples: believing people with mental disabilities are not capable of working, telling homophobic jokes, throwing a sexist theme party, etc. Institutional Oppression: Social institutions like media, education, health services, and government that maintain and perpetuate oppression through laws, practices, policies, and norms. • Examples: marriage being legal only for heterosexual couples, public schools more racially segregated than in 1950s, etc. Cultural Oppression: Values, norms, societal expectations, ways of thinking and ways of knowing that form institutions and individual patterns of oppression. • Examples: standards of beauty that are unrealistic for women, narrow definitions of gender expression, etc.
Aversive Oppression –
Subtle, often unintentional, belief that one does not discriminate, usually views self as a “liberal” • •
Possesses unconscious stereotypes and biases If those feelings are conscious, there is an attempt to dissociate from those feelings Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000
So What is a Microaggression? Microaggression: Subtle, verbal and nonverbal slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages directed toward an individual due to their group identity, often automatically and unconsciously. Usually committed by well-intentioned folks who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated.
So What is a Microaggression? Microaggressions are similar to carbon monoxide - “invisible, but potentially lethal” continuous exposure to these type of interactions “can be a sort of death by a thousand cuts to the victim” Sue, (2010) Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation.
Microaggressions in Everyday Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJL2P0JsAS4
Types of Microaggressions • Microinsult: Often unconscious verbal, nonverbal, and environmental communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity that demean a person's heritage or identity
– Examples: asking a student of color which scholarship they received for admittance to college, joking that you cannot give female office worker constructive feedback or she’ll cry, “helping” a wheelchair user without asking if they need assistance
• Microassault: Conscious and intentional discriminatory actions on one’s identity
– Examples: flying a confederate flag, denying child from dating someone of the same sex, UA student whistling at female professor in Centennial class
• Microinvalidation: Communications that subtly exclude negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person’s identity – Examples: color blindness, pictures that represent organization are homogenous, denial of individual homophobic experience
Taken from: Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal & Equilin, 2007
Real Life Microaggressions • UA professor asks a student wearing a hijab to explain to the class about arranged marriages, because “where she’s from they must do a lot of that” • Students and faculty dismissing questions by international students by responding “I don’t understand you?” or ignoring what was said (Kim & Kim, p. 175, 2010)
• “When I tell someone I'm Jewish, some people are shocked. And then I get, "wait so do you celebrate Christmas?" But most people just say, "YOU'RE JEWISH?!" And then I can't stand when people are always making "Jew jokes" about being cheap, or saving money. “ – UA Student • Commenting that “mixed race people are so beautiful/handsome/exotic” (Johnston & Nadal, p. 131, 2010)
Real Life Microaggressions • Peer “translating” what a professor just explained to an international whose English skills are strong (Sue, Lin et all, 2009) • “Don’t you worry your pretty little head” said to female students (Steinem, 2008) • “I love gay guys, they’re so much fun! I would love to have a gay guy best friend. But lesbians are just annoying.” – Said to a female, lesbian college roommate (www.microaggressions.com) • “I know this is the 3rd committee this year I’ve asked you to serve on, but I need the student of color perspective” said to a graduate student (Guzman, Trevino, Lubuguin, Arayan, p. 153, 2010)
Real Life Microaggressions • UA Latina student heard other students asking “what is that awful smell? and how can she eat that?” when student was cooking her comfort food in residence hall community kitchen. • Counselor expresses “surprise” in a counseling session when LGBTQ student hasn’t come out to family, suggesting there’s a right and wrong way to be LGBTQ. • “On any given day someone will race across the parking lot, and I wont be looking for help. I am putting my wheelchair in my car, and I hear ‘can I help you? can I help you?’” (Keller & Galgay, p. 253, 2010)
Microaggressions & Impact on College Campuses • Academic Invalidation – Work of graduate students/scholars of color is constantly challenged and invalidated faculty or students from dominant groups – Discouraged use of local & national database , journals, publications, research that are specific to people of color – “You’re primarily using sources written by scholars of color. I think your work will not be as strong. Try to vary your sources.” (Guzman, Trevino, Lubuguin, Arayan, p. 153, 2010)
Microaggressions & Impact on College Campuses • Psychological Impact on Students (Sue, p. 214-215, 2010) » » » » » » » » » »
Anxiety Paranoia Depression Sleep Difficulties Lack of Confidence Worthlessness Intrusive Cognitions Helplessness Loss of Drive False Positives
What Can be Done About Microaggressions? – Students experience more incidents of stereotyping and discrimination in low-diversity environments, and it doesn't completely disappear in highdiversity environments, though it occurs at a significantly lower rate,” Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA (from “The Climate for Underrepresented Groups and Diversity on Campus.”)
– “Studies have shown that unlike blatant old-fashioned racism, contemporary subtle forms of prejudice and discrimination (ie. microaggressions) can impede cognitive function and performance” (Banji, Greenwald, 1994; Salvatore and Shelton, 2007; Steele, 1997)
What Can be Done About Microaggressions? – How to support students • Don’t dismiss the experience of the microaggression as an isolated incident, or “not that big a deal” • Coalition building/networking amongst identity is encouraged and supported – – – – –
AASA’s new Legacy mentoring program LGBTQ & Transgender support group Sip N’ Bitch & NEW Leadership Student clubs Affinity groups for undergraduate and graduate students, and for staff/faculty
What Can be Done About Microaggressions? – How to support students cont. • “It’s important that colleges are aware of their campus racial climate and the specific challenges that their underrepresented students face. Improving the diversity of a campus is a first step, followed by working to improve interracial relations to build students’ skills for citizenship in a multicultural society,” Hurtado says.
Being Inclusive As a Campus Inclusive excellence is about the transformation of our institutions of higher learning by embedding inclusiveness into all aspects and processes of a college or university.* 5 dimensions that impact inclusive and exclusiveness* 1. Examine institutional past regarding inclusion and exclusion 2. Thinking of Diversity beyond the numbers 3. Campus climate 4. Organizational dimensions 5. Societal factors
*pgs 147-8 (Microaggressions and Marginality, Milem ,Chang, & Antonio, 2005))