Students gather to discuss micro-aggressions


Contributing Writer

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Forty students gathered in Campus Center room 301/302 to discuss microagressions yesterday, the second of the Center for Intercultural Advancement and Student Sucess’ taboo talks, meant to tackle controversial social issues affecting the Allegheny community.

“We had wanted to convene a space in which there could be unfettered honest exchanges around the experiences of underrepresented folks that they take to be offensive and really explore how they could be addressed and how we could have certain tools for change,” Kazi Joshua, the director of CIASS said about the discussion.

The talk revolved around the experiences of students who had experienced microaggressions, specific interactions between those of different races, cultures, or genders being interpreted as small acts of mostly non-physical aggression, and how dialogue and learning could be encouraged from them.

Issues of anger, intent and impact manifested themselves in the conversation. Matt Kelley,’ 14, explained the significance of having this conversation.

“Challenging a culture means having  on-going dialogue. Tonight and a lot of the taboo talks are continuing  a dialogue that needs to be continued,” Kelley said.

Kelley also explained how the conversation was useful to him personally.

“My favorite thing from tonight was something that Kazi said. He used the metaphor that if I step on  your foot and you say ‘ow,’ you said ‘ow’ because it hurts and I think that makes a lot of sense. So if I step on your foot and you say ‘ow,’ I can’t prescribe how your pain should manifest itself. I can’t tell you you should not say ‘ow.’ You should stop to explain to me why you’ve said ‘ow.’ If someone is hurt someone is going to act that way. Any kind of response to that hurt needs to start from the bottom line that they were hurt in the first place,” Kelley said

Joe DiChristina, the dean of students, who was present at the discussion said that he found it to be productive.

“For the people in that room, the conversation was absolutely productive, because they are voicing themselves,” DiChristina said.

DiChristina also said the conversation could be brought to the larger community.

“Get off social media and get in a room and talk to each other,” DiChristina said. “Face to face conversation. Let’s all read a similar article and talk about it.”