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Friday, March 21, 2014

Students and Readers Share Their Experiences of Race on Campus

As I report in The Big Topic on Campus: Racial ‘Microaggressions’, “microaggressions” is a term that has long been used by race theorists and sociologists, and is now increasingly popping up in blogs, social media campaigns, art and academic papers. Young people are using the term to describe the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture.

Even when behavior considered microaggressions is not overt, the episodes can have a lasting impact Take, for example, a multimedia project and performance that students at Harvard University produced called “I, Too, Am Harvard.” The project was based on interviews with black students who described feeling marginalized on campus, often a result of subtle or indirect comments like “You’re lucky to be black … so easy to get into college.”

We interviewed several students involved in the project. Here’s Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, a writer and director, sharing her experience.

A few weeks ago, following my piece on whether American millennials were “post-racial” (*spoiler alert - it turns out they are not) we asked readers to share their experiences with race on college campuses in blog comments and on Twitter with the hashtag #TellNYT.

A selection of the submissions from students included similar concerns about microaggressions:


What about you? Have you experienced microaggressions at school, at work or among friends? How did you respond? Do you think young people are being too sensitive, or are they justified in pointing out how they feel? I look forward to reading your comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter @tanzinavega and use the hashtag #TellNYT to share your thoughts.