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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Racial Microaggression at USC

USG President Rini Sampath's recent experience with racism on the Row has started a USC-wide conversation about campus culture.

USC students are abuzz today after hearing word of racial remarks made by a USC fraternity member, directed at USG President Rini Sampath. The incident sparked a conversation on campus about microaggressions. In definition, microagressions are “the verbal and non-verbal slights or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their appearance.” Professor Jody Armour, an expert on microaggression, gave his insight. Students around campus also chimed in on their experiences, or lack thereof.

Expert on racial justices and Professor of Law at USC, Jody Armour, says that even intellectual people can act in racially unjust ways. He talks about how microaggressions are a piece of our history, and are not always intentional, but can ultimately lead to larger consequences. “A reaction to somebody on the basis of some stereotype about them, you profile them, you distinguish and distance them from you by saying I’m not going to treat you as a full person, I’m going to treat you as some kind of generalization, some kind of stereotype, I’m going to objectify you. I’m going to reduce you to a thing” says Armour.

Students of a variety of races at USC talked about their experiences on campus with microaggression, revealing that it does not discriminate. Mili Daggarsi says she has not experienced any racial profiling on campus and that it’s not something she sees as an issue at USC. Abiola Oseni, however, bluntly disagreed, “Most people aren’t very open minded about certain things and they are stuck to their own opinion about the way they’ve been brought up or their own mindset and they are not open to viewing different people’s perspectives.”

Marissa Ascercion agreed with Oseni saying that sly comments around campus are definitely an issue. “When girls are walking down The Row wearing a specific outfit, other girls, maybe even males give them an eye roll, or something like that, just based on their appearance are just like ‘oh.’”

Although the unfortunate comments directed at our USG president were a form of macroagression, it is these microagressions that culminate into something bigger and prevent students from feeling a part of an all inclusive campus environment.


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