Panel Discussion about Micro-Aggression Hosted by Libraries

On Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., the Libraries’ Inclusion and Diversity Committee is sponsoring a “kitchen table discussion,” an informal, highly-participatory panel, about micro-aggressions: subtle words or attitudes toward minority groups that reinforce stereotyping.

Although our nation has historically struggled with stereotyping individuals and groups who have been underrepresented or ignored in society, stereotypes still remain, and in many circles, micro- aggression is a new form of racism.

“Some racism is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on—which may be especially toxic for people of color’” wrote Tori DeAngelis, author of “Unmasking Racial Micro Aggressions.”

In today’s political climate, we are more than ever encountering and addressing these issues, and many more, that are creating hurtful behavior.

The three invited panelists: Dr. Shari Clarke, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion; Sara Trower, executive director Civil Rights and Accessibility; and Dr. Jason Pina, vice president for Student Affairs.

“Micro-aggression has become a concern expressed in several venues on [the Athens] Campus, including conversations at the dean’s level…and conversations with staff at the office of Multicultural Programs,” said Eileen Theodore-Shusta, director of Planning, Assessment and Effectiveness and chair of the Libraries Diversity Committee.

Although there will be no formal agenda, the kitchen-style discussion will be headed by three University leaders on the Athens Campus focusing on the five OHIO values: character, community, citizenship, civility, and commitment.

“We hope this open dialog will generate an increased understanding of the concerns, and what positive steps are being taken by the University to address the issue [of micro-aggression],” said Theodore-Shusta.

The three invited panelists: Dr. Shari Clarke, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion; Dr. Jason Pina, vice president for Student Affairs; and Sara Trower, executive director Civil Rights and Accessibility—will explore a range of opinions in hope of encouraging and stimulating participatory conversation in an open public forum.

Clarke, whose office for Diversity and Inclusion serves as an advocate for awareness and inclusion of all people, is hopeful that “the persons in attendance would leave with an understanding and heightened awareness of micro-aggressions, and how they negatively impact society.”

She continued saying, “I am hopeful that awareness [of this kind of behavior] changes actions and increases conversations around this topic.”

Katy Mathuews, head of Collections Assessment & Access and moderator of the event, is also hopeful that the conversation will create an insight into “how we can build cultural competence to help sustain a welcoming campus climate for our wonderfully diverse community.”

The public is invited to attend the panel discussion, which takes place in the 1951 Lounge on the fourth floor of Alden Library on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 2-3:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.