Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"A Room Full of White People Is a Microaggression."

According to a new report released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, just “walking into or sitting in” a classroom full of white people is a microaggression in itself. 

The rest.


  1. We tend to not include original art from linked stories, but after we posted the article this morning, the reader who sent it in thought we should include the image and its caption as well.

  2. I would find the results of these kinds of studies clearer and more exactly indicative of the claims the authors make if they had two other kinds of data: (a) survey results from the participants on times they felt uncomfortable or attacked for reasons other than race, ethnicity, or gender and (b) some survey data from students in the majority group(s).

    Probably (a) is more telling than (b) but you should have the data.

    Not that I want to minimize the issue here---I've seen this kind of shit go down---but if you want this study to be serious science then you should make an effort to obtain control data and comparison groups.

    Disclaimer: I'm about as representative of the traditionally oppressive class as you can get without being a senator's son: white, male, with an upper-middle class suburban upbringing, with both biological parents present and married to each other and possessed of post-graduate degrees. You may consider my privilege checked.

  3. I see NR is still cherry picking. Is this article arguing for separate-but-equal?

    1. I was surprised to read (in the NR piece) that some of the comments directed toward minority students were "definitely racist and offensive," and that "No doubt, racism and sexism exist."

      I think NR is getting soft.

    2. Yes, back in 1991, the Dartmouth Review repeatedly claimed there was no racism on campus at all. I suppose that's progress, of sorts.

  4. I think there may be a vocabulary/wording problem here, but I haven't read far enough to tell if it's in the original report, or in the NR's choice of quotations. The term "microaggression" implies an aggressor: a person (or perhaps institution) who/which expresses opinions, explicitly or implicitly, that suggest that those in the minority do not "belong" in a particular situation. I'm not sure a room full of white people (and the students in that illustration are definitely very white; a few might have a Mediterranean ancestor or two, but that's about it) is a "microagression," though it can definitely be a situation that makes learning more difficult for a student who feels like the odd person out.

    Though I believe that microaggression is a useful concept, the ridiculously precise academic in me also hopes that it won't end up being used to cover such a wide range of situations that it loses its exact meaning (and thus becomes too easily criticized by publications such as the NR).