[Note: The conversations have been edited for clarity, length, and grammatical mistakes. They have also been edited thematically, however the dates of these utterances are noted above each section.]
7 May 2020
Varda: One of my concerns recently has been that when we go out to the park everyday, there will be people who cross or move to the road when you are coming on the pavement. And they will try to avoid you. And I understand right now all of these gestures are gestures of care. But in a while, let's say if it goes on for another three months, we are going to embody these gestures permanently and then ... all of them are so close to ... to racist gestures right? Avoiding someone and everything. What's going to happen when we embody them? I mean how are we going to resist that? I am very uncomfortable with people saying this is the new normal. I am not comfortable... this can not be the new normal, and I am actively resisting this.
Alice: About these gestures and these micro gestures of care that could also be interpreted on a good day as acts of everyday racism or microaggressions… If you could do something about the slippery nature of racism in the context of a university, what form would it take?
Sanaz: It could be like a piece of writing, a manifesto, or a statement.
Varda: All of this new behavior is not going to fall under the umbrella term of racism. We will have to come up with new words, a new definition for these behaviours. We were on our terrace the other day, and this lady stopped to say hello. She was walking on the pavement, and this other woman screamed at her, “you have to keep moving! Why did you stop? You have to maintain the distance.” I mean, you can just give that person a minute before you start screaming at her publicly.
So we would have to come up with new words. And there has to be a zero tolerance policy. And it has to be more grassroots, whatever happens, so there is a dialogue happening between students of colour and between those who are white and they would have to talk about these things. Because you can have a policy that is up there....to overcome this, these embodied gestures of racism, but you need dialogues so that everyone can air out their concerns, and you can really start building up a community foundation over again.