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Second Social Justice Dialogue Forum Met With Success

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Photo contributed by Devon Wright

On Thursday, April 14, Emmanuel College faculty, staff, and students gathered for a dialogue forum focused on the issue of unconscious bias.

The dialogue began with a viewing of Vernay Myer’s Tedx Talk “How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them,” which defines unconscious bias and how to confront it in one’s everyday life.

The Kirwain Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Ohio State University defines unconscious bias, also known as “implicit bias,” as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.”

Through implicit biases that we all carry, we tend to favor others who are more similar to ourselves and our families; but we also tend to make judgements about others, both positive and negative, that are based upon the general consensus of pervasive popular culture.

This tends to lead to unconscious stereotyping, especially in regards to young black men, even by those who are well meaning. The pervasiveness of negative images, speech, and characterization of young black men, creates a culture of acceptance for this archetype, and normalizes it within popular culture.

When archetypes are normalized within popular culture they tend to frame the way in which we interpret individuals with an appearance similar to that portrayed. Therefore, when the overwhelming majority of media we view that is concerned with young black men is negative and violent, we tend to associate young black men within our reality with negativity and violence.

Vernay Myers believes this phenomenon can be overcome via the plasticity of the human mind: by saturating the media we intake with images of positive black men, and finding real examples of amazing black men within our communities, we can reconfigure the general archetype of the young black man into something positive as well.

After viewing Myers’ talk, the tables of eight to ten individuals discussed a series of questions created by the President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusivity:

  • What is your understanding of unconscious bias? What kind of unconscious biases have you witnessed or experienced?
  • What are some practical ways that you can identify and address your own unconscious biases?
  • How could you apply these approaches in your role at Emmanuel College (student, faculty, staff, or administration)?

There was not time for the group to reconvene and discuss and consensus from the different groups, however discussion appeared productive throughout the room.

At the end of the dialogue, participants were instructed to exchange contact information, so as to continue the conversation throughout the semester.

The President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusivity intends to continue utilizing dialogue forums to supplement listening forums on campus, in order to initiate conversations aimed at improving issues of social justice on campus.

Devon Wright ’17 is a staff writer for The Hub. She can be contacted at wrightd2@emmanuel.edu.

Posted by on April 18, 2016. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.