In a radio appearance and in remarks to a newspaper, Lisa Gray, assistant director of student life for cultural and spiritual diversity, offered a vision for how college students can broach difficult topics of race without diminishing one another. Gray was featured in a Maryland Daily Record article on recent student demands for diversity at Towson University, and she was one of five guests on WYPR’s Midday show exploring “Student Activism, Race, and Free Speech”
On Midday, Gray explained the import of the slighting remarks or gestures termed “microaggressions” by likening them to paper cuts. One paper cut is trivial, she said, but 1,000 paper cuts can result in a hemorrhage. The goal on a campus, she said, should to protect free speech on a topic like microaggressions and at the same time to create “a space where everybody is valued and everybody is allowed a voice.”
In the Daily Record article, Gray elaborated on the idea of such a space. At UMBC, she said, the administration is encouraging students to talk about race and microaggressions in “brave spaces,” where participants can broach tough topics respectfully, but without the presumption of comfort.
“It’s a great concept that’s starting to take hold,” Gray said.
Image: UMBC Library in Summer 2015. Photo by Marlayna Demond for UMBC.