Students are speaking out about their own personal experiences with institutionalized microaggression, inequity, and even racism.
The definition of microaggression is an action or statement that can either be intentional or unintentional and specifically shows negative attitudes towards marginalized groups. Some DSA students have had enough. Minorities face microaggression on a daily basis and students are demanding more awareness. When reporting a derogatory comment, students might be fearful. Often, students fear that if they report certain comments, they may be silenced or not believed. The aggressor could simply deny their comment or not know that their words were hurtful or racist. Also, people in authority are more likely to believe an adult teacher than a student. It’s a repeated cycle that seems to affect so many.
“I was in my math class one year and the teacher told me that I have pretty hair for a black girl,” a junior at DSA, when asked about microaggressions she had experienced at school, shared.
That phrase is viewed as a preconceived notion, or stereotype. Implying that black women's hair is seen as less beautiful shows more than a negative attitude. The student also recalls the time when one of her teachers questioned her intelligence when she expressed that she is passionate about nursing.
“My teacher told me that he thought that nursing was not a minority dominated field and that it was predominantly white,” she stated.
She constantly finds herself questioning who to report to when someone says an inappropriate comment. The junior thinks that it may be hard to get support about certain issues, saying she probably would not feel comfortable talking to a counselor about her experiences. She thinks that some counselors do actually care and try to find actual solutions, but there is a hesitancy because of past experiences. She thinks that teachers penalize minorities for minor issues far more than white students.
“Teachers tend to have less patience with minority students,” she commented.
Another student shared his thoughts on microaggression. He recalls the time when a peer told him to “speak English because you’re in America.” He constantly finds himself brushing off derogatory comments.
“In certain situations I just brush it off because it is so normalized,” he stated.
ART CREDIT: VIOLET DEWIRE
DSA staff and students are expected to treat others with respect, no matter their race, religion, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. However, some students still experience microaggressions from teachers and peers at school.
Even though he has not received negative comments from teachers, he knows students who have. Just like the junior who shared her personal experiences, he also agrees that it can be difficult to report certain issues to people in authority.
“I feel like it depends on the counselor and I’ve heard of situations where counselors didn’t care,” he explained.
He also agrees that teachers have less patience with minority students.
“She was kind of pushy with me,” he stated, referring to one of his past teachers.
He feels as if certain people care more about the school’s reputation than actually helping to solve issues that need to be addressed.
“I feel like people just want to push it off to uphold the school's name and reputation,” he said.
Both students are saddened by the way that they have been treated especially within the school for being a minority and they are not the only ones. There are many more students who feel the same way and hope that DSA can make improvements.
“We need to call out people right then and there or else it will continue to happen,” he stated.