Davidson Microaggressions Project

Linguistic Racism

There have been several occasions in my time as faculty here that I have witnessed white colleagues use linguistically racist microaggressions to imply that a student would not likely succeed here (or to point out why a student is likely to perform poorly in a specific major or internship opportunity) or a professor job candidate would be a bad fit here. About a candidate: “Would we really put this person in front of our students to teach them??” About a student: “This student cannot write or speak English well because it’s not their first language. I’m concerned about the type of students we are admitting, who cannot communicate well.” In these particular examples, I was privy to the writing in question, the spoken language usage, and the other candidacy materials that showed a more well-rounded perspective of these people. Small missteps, like an imperfect essay, or an occasional mistake in language usage, speak volumes to some racists here who are looking for reasons to other the others. I spoke up when these incidents occurred but the lesson I took from them makes my blood boil and puts me on the defensive when I think about the people this mindset impacts.