Understanding Racism workshop explores individual, institutionalized prejudice


Institutional and systemic racism. White privilege. Individual prejudice.

These are just some of the concepts explored in this semester’s Understanding Racism Workshop, which took place from Friday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 17.

There were a total of 40 participants, consisting of 25 traditional Guilford students, seven CCE students, one faculty member, six Guilford professors and teachers and one Greensboro community member.

Jorge Zeballos, interim director for diversity training and one of the event organizers, approached this workshop with the same goals he has set for workshops past: help participants understand how racism extends beyond individual prejudice, create an understanding of how racism operates on a systemic level, and lead the participants to look for ways for Guilford to become an anti-racist institution.

This is only the beginning.

The team planning the Understanding Racism Workshop is expanding the program to include two workshops. The times and dates are to be determined.

The Level One workshop would be for those who have not attended the event before.

The Level Two workshop would be for those who have attended the program before and want to continue looking at the issue of racism on an even deeper level.

The purpose for this planned separation is to encourage further exploration and growth without scaring newcomers away.

“It’s hard to introduce the idea of white privilege to someone who hasn’t even considered it before,” Zeballos said.

Guilford is known as a liberal, open-minded campus. However, according to members of the student body, there is still work to be done.

Junior Chloe Weiner participated in the workshop as a first-year but returned once again to increase her awareness of racism even further.

“I want to see what more I can learn,” Weiner said. “Racism still exists in every institution, and the workshop has helped me detect it more.”

Aaron Fetrow, dean of students, participated in some of the first Understanding Racism workshops at Guilford and thinks that this program puts Guilford ahead of the game.

“We have a tendency to beat ourselves up about the issue of racism,” said Fetrow. “At least Guilford is talking about it compared to other similar schools and institutions. Racism still exists at Guilford, but we as an institution are addressing it better than other institutions.”

However, some students, like sophomore LaCrisha Kaufman, cannot ignore that there are still racist sentiments on campus.

“There are people who throw out derogatory terms, not realizing how offensive they are,” said Kaufman. “It’s pure ignorance.”

The administration also encourages the community to respond to incidents of racism and find solutions to the problem by working with resident advisors, The Bias Incident Group, and faculty and staff.

The Understanding Racism Workshop helps give members of the Guilford community the right tools to recognize and combat racism in their everyday lives. It challenges individuals to re-evaluate their own prejudices as well as the racism that exists in the institutions surrounding them.