By Mariet Bejarano, student communication intern, and Alan Chavoya, graduate assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
On Oct. 24, 2018, the university hosted “Privilege: Let’s Go There,” in the Varsity Theatre on campus. The event was designed to address campus concerns about racism, discrimination, microaggressions and ways to confront these issues.
The intent of the program was to help students understand the intricacies of racism through a panel discussion. Among the panelists were key university leadership and faculty members including Dr. Joya Crear, Dr. Grant Silva, Dr. Jeff Roche, Ms. Sheena Carey and former provost Dr. Daniel Myers.
The presenters not only offered basic definitions of the various manifestations of racism—they elaborated on the historical, institutional, interpersonal, psychological and philosophical particularities of racism. Through these insightful presentations, the event elucidated the importance of acknowledging the existent privilege within our university’s culture.
Senior leaders from the university encouraged attendees to recognize their own privilege, and Sheena Carey, internship coordinator and lecturer in the Diederich College of Communication, provided basic definitions of racism, white supremacy, privilege, “colorblindness,” and many other topics.
Particularly important was Carey’s discussion of “reverse racism.” She says appeals to “reverse racism” ignore the lived experiences of racialized minorities, racist structures, histories of racial oppression and the afforded privilege that comes with whiteness. Carey pointed toward the power dynamics involved in interpersonal and systematic racism to demonstrate how claims of reverse racism do not account for the power dynamics involved in racism.
Several other faculty members took the stage to offer insights on the topic of racism. Dr. Jeff Roche, psychologist and the group and career program coordinator in the Counseling Center, followed Carey by delving into the psychological and emotional ramifications of racism.
Dr. Grant Silva, assistant professor of philosophy, presented a brief history and a philosophical articulation of racism by amplifying the understanding of racism beyond hate-based accounts. Rather than perceiving racism as intentional hate-based harm done to a racialized group, Silva reconsiders racism as a form of pernicious self-love designed to preserve one’s privileged position. Racists do not necessarily have to act out of hatred towards racialized others; they can simply support the maintenance of their racially privileged position, Silva asserts.
Dr. Joya Crear, assistant vice president for student affairs, gave discussed the concept of microaggressions. When understood as an isolated incident, a microaggression may appear unharmful, but Crear challenged the audience to avoid such a perception. She likened it to a paper cut—when it is one of thousands of cuts sustained throughout a lifetime, the cumulative effects of individual microaggressions are felt profoundly.
The event highlighted the importance of not shying away from difficult conversations about racism and privilege. Based on the strong turnout and diverse backgrounds of attendees, it is evident that many members of Marquette’s community desire continuing discussions on these issues.
Celebrating diversity and inclusion at Marquette University