CCSU Professor Acknowledges The Lasting Effects Of Racial Micro-Aggressions

Ryan Brooks, Assistant News Editor

As racial tension persists throughout the country, Central Connecticut professor Dr. Angel Jones discussed the power of racial micro-aggressions, battle fatigue and how such experiences plague minority communities.

According to Jones, racial micro-aggressions are the subtle, everyday insults and mistreatment targeted at people of color. She specifically noted the issues with gendered micro-aggressions, especially attacks on women of color.

“A gendered micro-aggression would be something like ‘oh, you’re pretty, for a black girl,'” Jones said. “That comment isn’t just attacking me for being black, but for also being a black woman.”

The virtual lecture, hosted by the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center, heavily focused on how such experiences impact one’s health in various aspects. There are serious psychological effects associated with micro-aggressions including decreased self-esteem, anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicide.

“One of the participants in a study I did said that every time she knew she had to go to campus, she would throw up because she had this fear in her,” Jones said.

It is that constant fear, according to Jones, that leads many people of color to experience anxiety and suicidal thoughts. It also leads to “racial battle fatigue”, which addresses the psychological and physiological strain that is put on students dealing with microaggressions.

Racial battle fatigue can lead to nightmares, academic worry, denial and withdrawal.

“A lot of students feel they can’t respond in the moment,” she added. “Because the person guilty of the microaggression is a person in a position of power, there is a fear the professor will retaliate or invalidate what [they] are feeling.”

In terms of the physiological consequences of racial battle fatigue, Jones mentioned symptoms may include headaches, elevated heart rates, upset stomach, high blood pressure and loss of appetite.

In order to dive deeper into how college students encounter these micro-aggressions, Jones conducted a research study that analyzed the experiences of first-year and graduate students, along with their responses to micro-aggressions and racial battle fatigue.

“It is very tiring, I think I just have a mentality of giving up. To be honest, this is just how it is. Nothing I say is going to matter. I always felt as a black women that I was at the bottom of the totem poll, and then, to have these things that happen to you on a daily basis, it’s exhausting,” one student from the study responded.

Jones stressed the seriousness of these issues and urged others not to take them lightly.

“Microaggressions are real. Racial battle fatigue is real. And it’s not just threatening the mental well-being of our students, it’s threatening their lives,” Jones said. “I feel that people really don’t understand that and how intense it is toward black students.”