While public universities have made noteworthy strides in diversifying college campuses, work remains in retaining diverse students and faculty. This is where inclusion comes in. Inclusion remains so hard won because it is deeply rooted in everyone's everyday dispositions to act in biased or prejudiced ways. Sometimes these actions are conscious and intentional and take shape as aggressions (e.g. the kind of bullying, brow beating, demeaning or dismissing behavior seen when people insist that their experiences are the baseline against which all other people's experiences should be judged). Oftentimes though, these actions are more insidious or simply unconscious and unintentional mistakes. These manifest as microaggressions experienced in comments or gestures of dismissal, disrespect, or disregard when someone of difference offers a perspective at the table.
Offering a concrete example, Kristie Dotson's article "How is This Paper Philosophy?" opens with a story about a guidance counselor at a Historically Black College warning her sister away from pursuing philosophy as a major. It goes on to reveal the culture of justification in philosophical knowledge making and "the kind of exceptionalism and incongruence that such a culture amplifies, which serves to create a difficult professional culture for diverse practitioners" (6). In another article, Dotson illustrates efforts that "can be made to demarcate the different types of silencing people face when attempting to testify from oppressed positions in society." It is crucially important to continue this work of identifying, understanding, and redressing sources of microaggressions that create the culture of campuses and classrooms. This year, the CATILAH team joined forces with ISP/VIPP and teams of faculty from WRAC, the ELC, CELTA, and the College of Education to create Cross Cultural Teaching Exchanges. In these we've worked together as teams to explore the topics of cultural reciprocity, schooling, learning, teaching, language and literacy. The results have been a raised capacity to understand and sustain the cultural and linguistic assets of diverse students and language learners. We've also identified several ways in which dispositions to learn and teach can inadvertently exclude the very learners we hope to reach.
Diverse and inclusive classrooms and universities are not only possible, but can take place when everyone attempts to live and work together as a team. This begins with the assumption that everyone's knowledge and experience is equally important. It means supporting each other through listening, respect, and understanding the social responsibilities that stories and testimony demand. It means recognizing that silence itself has meaning. It means identifying goals and taking agreed upon steps together. It means recognizing that we are all capable of microaggressions, that we can gently identify these, make people aware, and together work as a team to create new dispositions and cultures. It means directing one another in the right way: ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᏕᏝ ᏕᏣᏓᏎᎮᎮᏍᏗ /duyugodv ditla detsadasehehesesdi/ .
Want to know more about microaggressions?
Boysen, G. A. (2012). Teacher and student perceptions of microaggressions in college classrooms. College Teaching, 60(3), 122-129.
Solorzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 69(1), 60-73.
Sue, D. W. (Ed.). (2010). Microaggressions and marginality: Manifestation, dynamics, and impact. John Wiley & Sons.