Davidson Microaggressions Project

“Something he felt, but couldn’t quite place”

A student of color once came to my office to talk about something he felt but couldn’t quite place. He told me he had gone to the tutor center for clarification on class content. The center personnel seemed to think he was not studying or doing the reading. This student has earned top grades his entire Davidson career. He had extensive notes with highlighted marks with him. He simply wanted extra time to go over some class content. He said he sensed that they thought he was from a poor public school background in the way they made comments about his education. He has attended only expensive private school his whole life. He was surprised by these microaggressions he was experiencing because he knew it was about the conflation of race with class that was guiding the assumptions and patronizing tone. I told him about the research on stereotype threat and gave several well-known examples. I attempted to validate his concerns. We discussed strategies to handle this and navigate the tutoring center. I made it a point to check in with him routinely beyond this meeting. He felt comfortable telling me because I’m also a person of color and he had had classes with me in the past. He knew that I would “get it.”