University of California (UC) president Janet Napolitano’s office has been training faculty members at the University of California to avoid describing America as a “land of opportunity,” along with other phrases the school claims are offensive “microaggressions.”
According to activists, “microaggressions” are subtle actions, usually unintentional, that perpetuate discrimination against disadvantaged groups even in environments where overt discrimination has been abolished. Now, the UC system has fully committed itself to formally training faculty to avoid and root out these perceived microaggressions for the good of all.
The attack on microaggressions is the centerpiece of a series of faculty leadership seminars carried out by Napolitano’s office at several campuses across the UC system. One document used in the seminars is titled Tool: Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send, and lists dozens of menacing microaggressions for faculty to avoid.
One of the largest categories of microaggressions are those that that promote the “myth of meritocracy.” According to the document, this “myth” is spread by statements such as “America is the land of opportunity,” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” and “Affirmative action is racist.”
Other examples of sinister microaggressions, according to the guide, include:
- Describing America as a “melting pot” (it orders people to assimilate)
- Stating that “there is only one race, the human race” (denying the significance of a person’s ethnic or racial history)
- Asking Asians, Hispanics, or Native Americans to speak up more (“pathologizing” foreign norms and treating white norms as “normal”)
- Using “he” as a generic pronoun for all people (it makes the male experience universal and the female experience “invisible”)
- Using forms where individuals must identify as male or female (it excludes the full LGBT experience)
The guide was used in faculty training sessions for UC faculty members throughout the 2014-15 school year, but its contents only recently drew more widespread attention when one professor notified The College Fix about the materials.
A PowerPoint used for seminar in April shows the dramatic tollvUC believes even a single microaggression take on students. Even a simple compliment, such as calling a student “articulate,” can set off a cascade of self-doubt and anxiety for the recipient
A second document instructs faculty on the proper ways to intervene against microaggressions. For example, if a person commits the offense of starting a sentence with “You people”, a suggested reaction is to say “I was so upset by that remark that I shut down and couldn’t hear anything else.”
Microaggressions aren’t the only threat faculty have been taught to mind. Another document, the Tool for Identifying Implicit Bias, instructs faculty how to avoid being biased in evaluations or hiring decisions. The document singles out phrases such as “hard worker” as being “euphemisms” for bias that must be rooted out.
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