What Can You Do If You Witness Racism Or Other Forms Of Bias At UWF?
This page gives some suggestions on things you can do if you witness racism or other forms of bias at UWF. This includes strategies for allies and information on accessing campus resources.
Strategies for Allies
An ally is a person who does not belong to a particular social group, but is actively engaged in advocating for and supporting that community. Students who are in under-represented groups can also be an ally to students of other under-represented groups. Being an ally is every person’s responsibility.
Tips for Being an Effective Ally
- Get Educated: You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in ethnic studies or be a historian. But making an effort to learn the history and current issues relevant to the communities you support is an important part of being an ally. Getting educated includes learning about the way that power, privilege, and oppression have impacted others’ lives, as well as your own.
- Speak Up (But Speak For Yourself): When you see racism and other forms of oppression rearing their heads in your day-to-day life, say something. Too often, people from marginalized groups are left holding all the responsibility for educating others and speaking up about discrimination and bias, but this is everyone’s issue. At the same time, avoid speaking for other groups of people (which can be inaccurate, reductionist, or even unintentionally condescending), and stick to sharing your own opinions and viewpoints.
- Know the Difference Between Intent and Impact: It’s easy to recognize overt discrimination, but it can be harder to recognize bias when it is subtle and when the other person may not have realized they were acting in a biased way. “Microaggressions” are, by definition, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group".
- Unintended Negative Impact: Allies recognize that well-intended actions can sometimes have an unintentional negative or hurtful impact. They are willing to listen non-defensively, and try to understand the perspectives of others when they express discomfort, hurt, or anger.
- Challenge the Behavior, Not the Person: Accusing another person of being a racist or of being prejudiced automatically puts them on the defensive, shutting them down and ending the conversation. Encourage thoughtfulness and dialogue by addressing biased behaviors and language, without escalating into hostility and name-calling.
- Be Willing to Make Mistakes: When racism and prejudice are part of the culture, we all absorb beliefs and attitudes that are shaped by that reality. Our actions will sometimes reflect this despite our best efforts, meaning that we all make mistakes from time to time, and can unwittingly cause anger or hurt. Don’t panic or despair. Be willing to genuinely listen, learn, engage, and apologize. Assume that making mistakes is part of the learning process of being an ever more effective ally. Be prepared for flare-ups of disappointment and criticism. Learn from your mistakes and do not retreat.
- Be a 100% Ally. No Deals. No Strings Attached: Everyone’s oppression needs to be opposed unconditionally. Humans need to be concerned about other people’s liberation issues, and it is in your own interest to do so and to be an ally.
Access Campus Resources
While stopping oppression is everyone’s job at UWF, there are some specific departments and groups that are generally a good place to start when you need to consult.
- The UWF Bias Response Team: The Bias Response Team promotes an organized, timely response to incidents involving bias and/or hate within the UWF community.
- The UWF Office of Equity & Diversity: The mission of the Office of Equity & Diversity at the University of West Florida is to educate students, faculty, staff, and the Northwest Florida Community about the value of diversity in all forms. The unit supports efforts across instructional sites that foster a climate of inclusive excellence. They strive to implement high-impact programming that creates opportunities for cross-cultural learning, understanding and engagement.
- Counseling & Psychological Services: Counseling & Psychological Services provides consultation for anyone who experiences discrimination or has witnessed discrimination. CAPS can help you to evaluate options for addressing your concerns. CAPS also provides culturally affirming counseling services for anyone who has been impacted by bias.
Know That You Are Appreciated
You took the time to read this page and get educated. That is a step toward helping us make UWF the kind of campus where everyone feels safe and respected.
Special thanks to California State University. Information on this page is a modified adaptation of information from their website.