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Social Justice Series Session Explores Microaggressions

Social Justice Series Session Explores Microaggressions

With the kickoff on Monday of the annual Social Justice Series, Canterbury School continued its commitment to fostering a community actively informed about and involved in societal issues. The series got underway with an announcement at School Meeting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A Service Leadership Retreat for Fifth Form students followed that evening.

On Tuesday, a community-wide activity—Navigating Microaggressions Among Our Peers—helped students identify microaggressions and their potential impact on our campus. The session, facilitated by students and faculty of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice (DEIJ) Council, explored scenarios that illustrate what a microaggression looks like when targeted against an oppressed group. Scenario topics included navigating nationality versus place of origin, The do’s and don’ts of touching/asking about someone’s hair, breaking down racial stereotypes in conversations, and dissecting gender expression versus sexual orientation.

Attendees broke into small groups—each led by a faculty member and a student from the DEIJ Council—to discuss the harmful effects of microaggressions, how we avoid perpetuating the status quo, and the tools and resources that can help foster inclusivity and acceptance in the Canterbury community and beyond. The session challenged students to be fully present, lean into discomfort, and suspend judgment of themselves and others.

The event was both enlightening and satisfying for DEIJ Council member Rahee “Ren” Kim ’25. “I learned that even though our society has greatly progressed with the understanding and inclusion of different identities, we still have a ways to go,” Ren said. “I was happy to help facilitate the activity and work toward spreading awareness of this important issue.”

Fellow Council member Elizabeth Carlson ’25 agreed. “Learning about microaggressions gave us the knowledge to avoid situations that will harm others,” she said. “What may seem like small comments and acts can cause a lot of damage to someone. You should treat others how you would want to be treated.”

And such takeaways were exactly what DEIJ Dean and Theology Teacher Sydney Feeney hoped students would gain from the session. “The goal was to bring them together to not only understand what it is to be microaggressed but examine how our own conscious biases lead to microaggressing others,” she explained. “We wanted to reinforce the notion of ‘Saints supporting Saints’ and stepping up for our peers when we witness microaggression. It went great!”

Sydney added that students will now carry this knowledge with them wherever they go. “There is no job or situation later in life where you do not have to think about being inclusive of coworkers and teammates and how to treat each other and build relationships,” she said. “It may not be completely relevant to you today, but one day it will be.” 

The Social Justice Series continues each Tuesday through February, with one final event held later in the spring.