Georgia Southern hosts campus discussion on racism in response to ‘triggerish’ incident

Emma Smith

The Georgia Southern Counseling Center and Office of Multicultural Affairs held “Coping With Racial Battle Fatigue” Wednesday night, highlighting struggles students of color may face during their college career and ways to cope.

The event, a response to the “triggerish” incident in July, was led by Counseling Center officials Johanna Workman, Daisja Dukes and Nikita Robinson.

Workman, associate counseling director, said although progress has been made, racism is still an issue on college campuses.

“Racism isn’t bound to a time like the Jim Crow era or a place like the south,” Workman said in her speech. “Unfortunately, this country has seen a significant uptake in racist incidents on college campuses in the last couple of years.”

Tips from the Counseling Center

Racial battle fatigue is the impact racial micro-aggressions and stereotypes have on people of color. Robinson said it can lead to failing grades, lack of class attendance, increased anxiety and several other academic issues.

Robinson encouraged students who experience racial battle fatigue to take time to themselves to unwind if needed, and to never hesitate to seek counseling.

Dukes explained the concept of code switching and how it can be counterproductive to students’ mental health. She described it as understanding where you come from but feeling like you have to be seen as the majority culture to survive.

An example Dukes gave was having to work extra hard to be seen as a hard worker and avoid racial stereotypes.

“It can lead to what we call internalized racism because you’re constantly battling between your culture and another,” Dukes said. “Eventually you can start to feel like your culture is bad.”

Workman said racial aggressions can impact students’ emotional and physiological health and ultimately their success in class. She encouraged white students to stand up to any instances of racism they may witness.

“If you intervene, it may be uncomfortable but it won’t be unsafe,” Workman said.

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Student opinions

Joshua Ahiakwo, senior Spanish and international studies major, said it is important to talk about racial battle fatigue in order to address students’ health.

“This is important for students of color because part of the resistance is healing, and it’s important to fight oppression on the inside as much as the outside,” Ahiakwo said.

Dominique Pagan, junior fashion merchandising major, said she was able to relate to the topic.

I thought the title [of the event] was intriguing and relatable due to the media’s coverage of racism lately,” Pagan said.

Harley Stevens, freshman sociology major, said white students should pay attention to the topic just as much as students of color should.

“Subjects like racism should not be pushed under the rug,” Stevens said. “I’ve never felt out of place because of the color of my skin but that’s what some people have to deal with on a daily basis.”

If you are facing issues with your college experience, you can contact the Counseling Center at (912) 478-554.

Emma Smith, The George-Anne News Editor,