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In Black America: Microaggressions Faced By Students And Faculty Of Color

Courtesy of Austin Peay State University

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Harold Young, assistant professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.

Multi-directional pressures and demands from administrations, departments, students, and parents are universal in academic life. What is different for faculty of color is the racist micro-aggressions encountered while going about the tasks of engaging a diverse student body and fulfilling other responsibilities in a challenging social and political environment. They are charged with supporting their students who also share these experiences.

In Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses, Lawrence Ross points out that it never seems to matter when or how often we bear witness to these realities, the incidents are marginalized as being isolated, or the acts of “one bad apple”.

Young’s goal is to share some divergent experiences to reinforce to others that, as faculty of color, are neither alone nor insane, or even overly-sensitive

As faculty of color, they must manage themselves, encourage our students, and promote learning in sometimes less than ideal social climates. These tasks are often complicated by the denial or minimizing of the problems faced by segments of university communities and the society as a whole. They have to carefully choose when, where and how to respond to incoming fire lest they will be labeled thin-skinned and aggressive. There are no simple answers, but know that they are not in this alone. As positive outcomes are dependent on multiple veto players, it is incumbent upon their personal leadership and the leadership of their colleagues, regardless of racial identity, to acknowledge these societal problems and constructively engage to develop strategic approaches to support one another. They then must follow through, and repeat.

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT at 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 6:30 a.m. Sundays — and weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.