But a lot of the report’s “most commonly described” racial microaggressions could also be interpreted as having nothing to do with racism at all. “Being the only student of color in the classroom” was on that list, as was “being discouraged during meetings with one’s academic advisor” (one student determined that her adviser had questioned her choice of major only because “she realized I was African American,” and therefore, “in her mind, I wasn’t able to successfully complete the major”); “being dismissed or ignored by the instructor before or after class” (an African-American male stated, “when I raise my hand, I am often not called upon”); “receiving hostile reactions to participation in the classroom discussion” (one student said she has “witnessed and felt that when a minority student tries to correct [a] comment . . . they are then viewed as angry or defensive when in reality they are simply trying to inform others of what is true”); and “being excluded from participating in a group project” (one student says he keeps quiet in these situations because “I feel as though what I have to say often doesn’t matter to the rest of the group members.”)
But don’t advisers question students’ major choices all the time? Isn’t that actually their entire job? Hasn’t every participation-eager student had a professor that he feels doesn’t call on him enough? Isn’t it possible that people who act annoyed or upset about being publicly corrected are just upset about being publicly corrected in general rather than because they were corrected by a minority student specifically? Doesn’t the group-project example sound more like the kind of general shyness/self-doubt/social anxiety that anyone can experience rather than a sign of institutional racism?