A college student is asking for guidance after being faced with an “uncomfortable” and “upsetting” comment during an online class meeting.
The anonymous student shared her dilemma in an advice column run by BuzzFeed staff writer Stephen LaConte. In her message, she told LaConte she’d recently been called a racial slur by one of her classmates.
Her problem was made more complicated by the fact that the comments were made during a Zoom call with several other students, all of whom were working together on a class project. The student, who is Indian American, wrote that no one in the call reacted aloud to the slur, which involved her being called a “curry n-word.”
“I am Indian American, so not African American, but was shaken up by the incident,” the student wrote. “No one in the Zoom, myself included, said anything, largely due to shock and discomfort.”
‘It’s left me feeling very upset’
The student then asked for LaConte’s help in handling the situation. She wrote that she was unsure whether she should tell her professor what happened, simply ask to leave the project group or address the racial slur with the student who said it.
“It’s left me feeling very upset and uncomfortable since I still have to work with this individual,” she added.
LaConte began his response by apologizing that the incident took place, adding that people should never be afraid to stand up to racism of that kind.
“I’m also sorry that none of your classmates intervened to help you,” he wrote. “Here’s a reminder to all BuzzFeed readers to speak up when you see stuff like this happen — especially if you’re white and have the privilege of calling out racism without risking its worst consequences.”
The advice columnist added that it’s not acceptable to “let racist attacks like this go unchecked” and that the victim of a racial slur should not be expected to stand up for themselves.
“This really shouldn’t be her problem to solve, and it’s a failure of her classmates on that Zoom call that she’s navigating this alone,” LaConte continued.
‘You have a right’
Moving into his advice for the student, LaConte wrote that she should ultimately do whatever makes her most comfortable. However, he noted that she should consider filling in her professor no matter what.
“After that, if you’d like to see this guy face more serious consequences, I hope you’ll consider escalating the issue to people above your professor,” he added.
LaConte went on to say that the student could escalate the issue beyond her professor in the “interest of protecting other students of color from future attacks.” Finally, LaConte noted that, if she’s still struggling with the incident, she should ask her professor for extra help or time off from class.
Many BuzzFeed readers seemed to agree with LaConte’s advice, flooding the article’s comments section with their frustration against the student who said the racial slur.
“As a professor, yes, reach out. Your school has procedures for dealing with racist a******* like this because you have a right to an education free of harassment,” one commenter wrote.
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