‘Understanding Racism’ workshop still under-attended

A small group of students and faculty members gathered in the Founders East Gallery on Sept. 14 to discuss a prevalent issue on campus: racism.

The Understanding Racism workshop is a program that works to bring the Guilford College community together with a conversation about racial stereotypes and misconceptions. The workshop’s organizers recently reconfigured it into a more compact schedule.

“They changed it from all weekend to one day,” said junior Briajani West.

“The basic foundation stays the same,” said Jada Drew, director for educational initiatives and partnerships at Guilford. “I think it’s just as effective.”

The organizers’ hope was that this adjustment would draw more participants because it would not be such a huge time commitment.

“It’s an overlooked workshop,” said West. “It’s something that more people at Guilford should attend.”

Unfortunately, the revamped schedule failed to draw a larger crowd.

“I’d say we had about 35-40 people this time,” said Jorge Zeballos, director of diversity training and development at Guilford. “It’s about the average we have every time we hold these.”

“I wish more people were at the workshop,” said first-year Elena Robles. “Or at least that they had the attitude to want to be there.”

Though attendance was limited, the students who attended the workshop found it to be an enriching experience.

“The participants were very engaged in the material, very reflective,” said Zeballos. “It seemed to me they were really getting a lot out of the process.”

The conversation focused on personal experiences with racism and assumptions that people may make based on their peers’ race.

“We learned about how all stereotypes come from somewhere,” said West.

The workshop included experiential exercises and group discussions on the history of racism, institutional racism and its impact on the Guilford community.

“There was a presentation on institutionalized racism,” said Robles. “That was really interesting because it really showed how much racism has prevailed in our society.”

Just last year, Guilford celebrated its 50th year of racial integration. Greensboro was a hotspot for racial tension in the 1960s, and Guilford’s equality initiatives were noteworthy and admirable to many.

The Understanding Racism Workshop is an effort to continue such initiatives in a modern setting. The discussions reminded students that racism has not been beaten and that they must continue to strive for equality.