Community, Diversity

Addressing Microaggressions

On Wednesday, April 26, Northwest School students participated in an half-day conversation on microaggressions and what students can do to stop them. The Social Justice Squad, an Interest Group of students devoted to raising awareness on social justice issues, organized and facilitated the community conversation.

"Committing to a school wide conversation on diversity is very important because the open communication allows everyone to have a space," says Ana W. '17, a member of the Social Justice Squad and an organizer of the event. "Microaggressions are all around us, and we were able to pick apart and understand a piece of issues we all see daily."

The community conversation began with a short video featuring Northwest School students and faculty members speaking about microaggressions they have experienced or enacted in our community. After the video, students split into small groups to discuss and better understand microaggressions, and ways to intervene when witnessing a microaggression.

Members of the Social Justice Squad facilitated each group and helped provide guidance and the encouragement to talk about a potentially uncomfortable subject.

After the small group conversations, the student body split into two caucuses: one for the students of color, and one for white students. The Social Justice Squad deliberately used raced-based groups for the second half of the morning, because decades of research demonstrate that these caucus groups provide safe spaces for people of similar backgrounds to process experiences and be in community.

In the people of color caucus, the students focused on their personal racial identities and their shared experiences within the Northwest School community, as well as the different experiences based on their racial identities. In the white caucus, students talked about racial makeup of their families and circles of friends, and patterns and habits that influenced the lack of diversity in their lives..

"We want this to be uncomfortable. We want you to be vulnerable," said Massimo A. '18 during a presentation at the start of the white caucus. "That is the only way that change can happen."