Hodge: Be conscious of ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’ on campus

Jayla Hodge

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

On Nov. 16, 2015, Colorado State University students, staff, and faculty rallied in support of their peers at the University of Missouri who were speaking out against racially motivated violence and discrimination occurring on their campus. In response to these incidents, a group of  CSU students and alumni including Isaiah Martin, Vance Payne, and Kwon Atlas made a list of recommendations for President Tony Frank and his administration on how the University could improve its own support of diverse populations.

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CSU  has agreed to increase its inclusion efforts and support of marginalized communities on campus. This support is especial vital given anti-diversity movements and incidents causing a rise in racial tensions and what is know as ‘racial battle fatigue’ in racially marginalized students.

The President’s cabinet and faculty leadership agreed on the 6 “Mizzou”recommendations and are currently  in various steps of implementing and catering to the processes each recommendation requires. This past December members of the president’s cabinet meet with students to provide an update on the progress.

Out of all the recommendations, the 3rd was implemented and acted upon the fastest.  Recommendation 3 states, “We recommend increased funding and resources for the Student Diversity Programs and Services (SDPS) offices and increased funding resources for mental health issues specifically dealing with racial oppression and racial battle fatigue.”

“We recommend increased funding and resources for the Student Diversity Programs and Services (SDPS) offices and increased funding resources for mental health issues specifically dealing with racial oppression and racial battle fatigue.” – The “Mizzou” reccomendations

Vice President of Student Affairs and the Vice president responded,“We hired a new advocate position for the Women and Gender Advocacy Center this year. The psychologist the CSU Counseling Center hired to address racial oppression and ‘battle fatigue’ did an excellent job working with students from the SDPS Offices last year but she left the University in August of this year. We are currently doing job search to hire another psychologist to fill this role.” 

Both the VP of student affairs and VP both expressed the importance of providing specific counseling services to diverse student offices.

Racial battle fatigue describes the psychophysiological symptoms—from high blood pressure to anxiety, frustration, shock, anger and depression—people of color may experience living in and navigating historically white spaces.  It is the fatigue of having to deal with pervasive microaggressions daily.

Microaggressions are defined as subtle verbal and nonverbal acts ranging from slights to insults and unintentional/ discrimination against members of marginalized groups outside of dominate identities. While such acts may be intentional, many people who engage in these behaviors are unaware of their stereotypical and hurtful nature.

The research and studies of university of Utah researcher William A Smith, who coined the term, found that people who experienced, “chronic racial micro and macroaggressions will perceive their environment as extremely stressful, exhausting and diminishing to their sense of control, comfort and meaning while eliciting feelings of loss, ambiguity, strain, frustration and injustice.”

Most students on this campus have the privilege of not having to think about race and even noticing it when going about their daily activities on this campus. Student of color do not share this convenience. There are additional challenges living in a community that is culturally different than your own.

Most students on this campus have the privilege of not having to think about race and even noticing it when going about their daily activities on this campus. Student of color do not share this convenience. There are additional challenges living in a community that is culturally different than your own.

Marginalized students on this campus bear the effects of racial battle fatigue. It’s the anxiety that comes with walking into a class and seeing you are the only black student and constant frustration of having to tell complete strangers that ‘no, you can’t touch my hair.’ It’s the built up stress of trying to belong in a community that contains some individuals that don’t even like you because of your race, and the daily fear that you will encounter them.

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Dismissing these concepts is oppressing the students who are affected by them daily. The University recognizes the addition struggles it’s diverse student population face and should continue to implement programs, committees, and resources that support it’s marginalized students. These steps are necessary considering CSU had its own incidents this year that are similar to the incidents at Mizzou that lead to the University’s high racial tensions and their President’s resignation.     

This is not the university feeding into the ‘snowflakes’ or ‘political correct times.’ It’s about our campus responding directly with resources to ensure that students of color have the means to thrive, learn, and achieve in an environment that is still working on diversity and inclusion.  

Jayla Hodge can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @Jaylahodge.