We want to thank everyone that participated in and supported yesterday’s walk out, demands, and shared their stories. Seeing the number of UW law students, faculty and staff that showed up was incredibly powerful and moving.
The walk-out and microaggressions were not intended as a one-time action. They are a starting point and meant to initiate a candid dialogue – which we are so thrilled to see has happened. We hope this momentum continues in our meetings, classrooms, and other spaces, and are excited for our movement to grow continuously from here. The microaggressions posters were organized by the Law Students Working Against Institutional Racism (LSWAIR), and we have been excited to receive support from the Diversity Committee.
While many students have expressed feeling empowered and encouraged by the actions, we have also heard that some individuals feel that these microaggression posters and website encourage public shaming. We want to acknowledge that public shaming was not our intention.
The intent of posting the microaggressions was to highlight the daily discomfort of many students of color, women, disabled students, and LGBTQ students. While we recognize that it may not feel good to be spotlighted as problematic, we see this as equalizing the discomfort that marginalized students feel on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, we believe we need to center the voices of students of color and otherwise marginalized students. While we are willing to have individual conversations around the voices of white students who felt challenged by the Microaggressions posters, this movement was led by students of color and was created with the intent to amplify the voices of students of color who have not felt that there is a space to express their experiences in this law school. We believe that shifting the conversation too far from that has the result (intended or unintended) of minimizing this mission.
We will be meeting on 3/2 during the lunch hour in Room 116 to debrief about the past week’s events. We encourage all students to come.
With Regard to the Tearing Down of the Microaggressions
It has come to our attention that there were some threatening emails directed at the staff member who took down the microaggressions from the wall. While there is a metaphorical aspect to this act that leads to well-intended critiques of how the administration handles direct action that doesn’t conform with protocol, LSWAIR has never intended to harm individual staff people and do not believe pointing the finger at individual actors is a productive strategy to address institutional oppression. We hope to encourage a dialogue around the culture within the institution that silences the voices of marginalized people. We ask students of the law school – particularly white students – to approach problematic comments and actions with the intent to “call in” rather than demonize. We acknowledge that racist and otherwise oppressive dialogue is deeply internalized, and that the most effective way to challenge these messages are to approach people with deep love and understanding.