Gina Garcia, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, visited Slippery Rock’s campus for a conversation on microaggression on college campuses on Thursday evening.
Students filled the ballroom for a topic on microaggression, better known as unconscious bias. The discussion opened with students sitting at round tables as Garcia spoke about the definition of microaggression.
“Microaggression is primarily nonverbal, but can also be spoken. It is being biased without even realizing it,” Garcia explained.
The biases that Garcia discussed come from race, gender, and social identity.
Garcia said, “Not every Hispanic person has the last name Garcia,” as an argument for racial biases. Garcia also went on to explain that people cannot speak for their entire people group or location.
“If you are from a rural community, you should not be expected to know every single thing about the history and background or lifestyle of that place,” Garcia said. “Too often people expect you to and that is when it becomes problematic.”
Garcia explained that another issue in the way that people view her personally is that they compare her to Jennifer Lopez, because they are both of the same race.
“People objectify, sexualize, rationalize and minoritize simply based on their own stereotypes and personal experiences,” Garcia said. “Nobody truly knows what ethnicity I am just from looking at me.”
Garcia discussed that minorities are primarily oppressed people of color, women, people in poverty and transgender people.
The discussion then moved into a lecture style set up to allow for a denser presentation from Garcia. In the lecture, she discussed institutions being implemented to allow for more diversity among the schools.
The argument was then set into play that people often radicalize dances and places.
Garcia said, “For instance dances such as hip hop and places such as Compton are automatically associated with black folk in most people’s minds.”
Garcia wrapped up her discussion with a few other examples including verbal stereotypes, which is what it means to tokenize someone for their race, and sexualization.
This event was brought to the University by the DEI Leadership Team as part of the Courageous Conversations Series. More events will be hosted in the upcoming days to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.