Prof creates research group to fight 'racial battle fatigue'

Toni Airaksinen
Columnist at PJ Media

  • A University of Utah professor has created a "Racial Battle Fatigue Research Group" to examine the ways in which "microaggressions" cause "battle fatigue" for people of color.
  • Professor William Smith coined the term "racial battle fatigue" over a decade ago to describe the “cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological, and behavioral effects that racial microaggressions have on people of color.”
  • A University of Utah professor has launched a research group to study how microaggressions cause “battle fatigue” among minorities.

    The “Racial Battle Fatigue Research Group” was founded by Professor William Smith, who coined the term “racial battle fatigue” more than a decade ago to describe the “cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological, and behavioral effects that racial microaggressions have on people of color.”

    "People should be aware of how things...can be perceived or received as racial microaggressions."   

    [RELATED: CSU hires counselor to deal with ‘racial battle fatigue’]

    Microaggressions, Smith contends, can cause a variety of detrimental effects to minorities such as immigrants and people of color, which he says merits academic analysis so that people develop interventions to stop them.

    “The focus of the [Racial Battle Fatigue Research Group] will be to examine offensive racial mechanisms (i.e., racial microaggressions) and racial battle fatigue in education,” according to the group’s website, which adds that the group will be a “space for a rich conversation, sharing, and the promotion of healing.”

    [RELATED: UNC claims Christmas vacations, golf outings are microaggressions]

    Smith told Campus Reform that he started the group after many of his graduate students expressed interest in learning more about racial battle fatigue, remarking that “people are very interested in thinking about tactics of intervention.”

    While there is no formal research project affiliated with the group, it plays host to monthly meetings during which students discuss racial battle fatigue and methods of combatting it.

    Smith explained that to stop “battle fatigue,” people need to stop committing microaggressions and other instances of racism, adding that self-awareness is paramount to the effort.

    “People should be aware of how things they may say or do subconsciously can be perceived or received as racial microaggressions," he said.

    While “the vast majority of whites are people who don't intend to do those things,” Smith argued that these microaggressions can still hurt people of color, regardless of intent.

    [RELATED: ‘Microaggression’ scholars complain research used to silence speech]

    For the upcoming academic year, Smith expressed hopes that the group will try to host monthly meetings, and will try to plan a mini-conference next year.

    "We'll bring together some speakers to talk on how racial battle fatigue operates for males of color, females of color, [LGBT] people of color,” Smith told Campus Reform.

    He also hopes to offer a class on the theory in the spring, tentatively titled “Racial Battle Fatigue in Education,” but the class has not been formalized yet.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Columnist at PJ Media
    Toni Airaksinen is Columnist at PJ Media and a Consultant at Youth Radio. She was previously a New Jersey Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform with a focus on Title IX, the OCR, and the First Amendment. During college, she also was a columnist for Quillette and The Columbia Spectator. Her exclusives have been featured on FOX News and The Drudge Report. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018.
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