Seed Grant Award: Understanding and Responding to Racial Microaggressions in the Theatre of the Oppressed

Faculty: Allison Lee, Desmond Jordan, Maya Hastie, Department of Anesthesiology

Allison Lee, Desmond Jordan, Maya Hastie

The proposed project consists of simulated exercises in an adaptation of the "Theatre of the Oppressed", with a goal of increasing understanding of racial microaggressions and teaching techniques to respond, whether as a victim or bystander.

Members of the department of anesthesiology were asked to join one of a series of voluntary, 90-minute online sessions. A social work consultant with expertise in moderating conversations on race and racism served as moderator. The event concluded with facilitated debrief between participants to engage in critical reflection of the experience and the learning.

A department-wide grand round session was subsequently held online, consisting of a short presentation on racism and its impact in the workplace, and the reflections from the theatre of the oppressed sessions. This was followed by breakout working groups that aim to identify tangible actionable steps for implementation in the department, to address racism and race-based microaggressions.  

An anonymous online self-report survey was sent to assess:

1. Overall satisfaction with the program and its design
2. Perceived learning: self-reporting on ability to recognize racial microaggressions when directed at self or others; knowledge of available resources in managing experienced or witnessed racial microaggressions
3. Behavior changes, including perceived ability to effectively and safely respond to experienced or witnessed racial microaggressions.
The surveys was sent to all members of the department of anesthesiology. Pre- and post-participation surveys were compared.

This project was funded through the Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.