Zero Tolerance of Discrimination in The Cell Biology Department

A. POLICY: The Department of Cell Biology is committed to eliminating discrimination (discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, social status, mental or physical disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc), retaliation, and harassment in our department. It is the policy of the Department of Cell Biology that discrimination of any type will not be tolerated.

B. SCOPE: All members of the Cell Biology Department namely - administrators, faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, new recruits, and visiting scholars and students.

C. OBJECTIVES: Provide a supportive scientific learning and working environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation of any type based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, social status, mental or physical disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation, or other identity.

D. DEFINITIONS: Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group. Discrimination is defined as disparate treatment of an adverse nature towards any member of our department based on race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, social status, physical or mental disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation, or other identity.

E. RESPONSIBILITIES: All members of the department will be held accountable to maintain a workplace free of racism or discriminatory practices and make efforts to resolve any form of either. It is EVERYONE's responsibility to maintain and foster a non-hostile learning environment both in the workplace and when representing Duke and the Duke community.

F. REPORTING: Any discriminatory incident should be reported to the Department of Cell Biology in one of two ways: 1) Direct email to the Departmental Mediator Dr. Blanche Capel (, Chair Dr. Scott Soderling (, or DGS Dr. Michel Bagnat ( 2) Completely anonymous reporting by filling in this form: Anonymous Form for the Reporting of Discriminatory Incidents in Cell Biology reviewed by the Department Ombudsperson and Chair. All reported incidents will be safely and anonymously (if desired) investigated by the Department. If needed, the Department will forward the incident to the Duke Office of Institutional Equity for official reporting and investigation. The Department encourages reporting of incidents from bystanders.

: Microaggressions are particularly insidious and common examples of racism, prejudice, or discrimination. Microaggressions are everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that members of marginalized groups experience in their day-to-day interactions with individuals who are often unaware that they have engaged in an offensive or demeaning way (Sue, 2010). Anyone in a marginalized group — be it as a result of their race, gender, sexual orientation, social status, nationality, disability, religion, etc. — can experience microaggressions. Please examine the following table to view some examples of microaggressions. It is important that all Cell Biology members are aware of microaggressions and the detrimental effects they have on their victims.

Click on this link for more information on microaggressions.

and a full table of examples. 

Adapted from: Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, Esquilin (2007). Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice. American Psychologist, 62, 4, 271-286

Examples of Microaggressions

Theme Microaggression Message
Ascription of Intelligence: Assigning intelligence to a person of color on the basis of their race. “You are a credit to your race.” “You are so articulate.” Asking an Asian person to help with a Math or Science problem. People of color are generally not as intelligent as Whites. It is unusual for someone of your race to be intelligent. All Asians are intelligent and good in Math / Sciences.
Pathologizing cultural values/communication styles: The notion that the values and communication styles of the dominant/White culture are ideal. Asking a Black person: “Why do you have to be so loud/animated? Just calm down.” To an Asian or Latino person: "Why are you so quiet? We want to know what you think. Be more verbal. Speak up more.” Dismissing an individual who brings up race/culture in work/school setting. Assimilate to dominant culture. Leave your cultural baggage outside.
Second-class citizen: Occurs when a White person is given preferential treatment as a consumer over a person of color. Person of color mistaken for a service worker. Having a taxi cab pass a person of color and pick up a White passenger. Being ignored at a store counter as attention is given to the White customer behind you. “You people …”. People of color are servants to Whites. They couldn’t possibly occupy high-status positions. Whites are more valued customers than people of color. You don’t belong. You are a lesser being.