Sara Wielenberg | Staff Writer | 4-10-2012
The Ah-Ha! Moments presentation brought in around 20 students to learn about micro-aggressions and a new smartphone app.
The Ah-Ha! Moments presenters were from the University of Minnesota-Morris. Tracy Peterson had the idea for the Ah-Ha! Moments app in 2006, and last year it finally got into motion with the help of Sue Lor and Leslie Gubash.
Their presentation at BSU on the evening of Tuesday, April 3rd was their third time presenting Ah-Ha! Moments. The presentation was about the subtle perpetuation of stereotypes and prejudice through micro-aggressions.
Lor, Gubash, and Peterson began their presentation by introducing themselves in their native languages. Lor began in Hmong, Gubash introduced herself in Arabic, and Peterson did his introduction in Diné.
They began by talking about stress, the Autonomic Nervous System, and the Stress Response Sequence. The Stress Response Sequence goes through the two parts of the Autonomic Nervous System. The Sympathetic Nervous System is the first part of the sequence and it involves the ‘flight or fight’ response.
When people come down from that stress, it is the second part of the Autonomic Nervous System—Para-sympathetic Nervous System. In that stage there is freezing or disassociation with the stressful event. After those two phases, the body normalizes. According to Peterson, Lor, and Gubash’s presentation, trauma symptoms appear when the body gets stuck in the first stages of the Stress Response Sequence.
This all came back to diversity and, as Gubash phrased it, “reintroducing the topic of micro-aggression.” Micro-aggressions were broken down into three different types: micro-insults, micro-assaults, and micro-invalidations. Students were broken into three groups and each group was given a scenario in which they were asked to identify the micro-aggression. Micro-aggressions were shown to be both unconscious and conscious acts or words that would relay a negative feeling towards a particular group. Gubash, Lor, and Peterson brought this topic back to several categories of prejudice such as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
The presentation wound up with an introduction of their app—the Ah-Ha! Moments app. This app is to be free and will provide responses to micro-aggressions. When a person encounters a micro-aggression they can use this app to enter the particular micro-aggression into the blog ahha-moments.blogspot.com. On the blog, people offer appropriate and helpful responses for dealing with the micro-aggression. If that particular one has already been entered, the responses will be there.
These three educators are about “making the invisible visible” through their Ah-Ha! Moments app. Although Peterson was the founder of the concept, the Lor and Gubash have been a large part of getting the project going.
“Tracy got us involved and we started doing research,” says Lor. Five years in the making, Peterson’s vision of a social justice smartphone app is now becoming a reality.