Unintentional racism discussed as part of WCU Diversity week

To kick off WCU’s 12th Annual Diversity Week, Psychology professor, Dr. John Habel led a lecture on Unintentional Racism on Monday, Sept. 17.

The turnout was pretty small with around 10-15 students in the audience. The lecture began with a quiet crowd but by the end many students were sharing their personal stories and opinions.

The lecture began with an overhead projection of a questionable photo. The photo showed two different skin colored Barbie dolls and their marketed price. The doll of darker colored skin was half the price of the doll with lighter skin.

The photo led Habel into his discussion on what the different types of racism are. In his words, there are active, passive, and unintentional types of racisms.

Habel explained that active racism is blatant racism; having hate or using violence against another race. Passive racism is experiencing or hearing racism and not doing anything about it – standing still. Unintentional racism is something that “we all virtually possess,” according to Habel. Unintentional racism is the hidden biases that society has taught us.
Habel suggested that there are five ways to overcome unintentional racism that we should all practice:

  • Examine your own stereotypes
  • Intentionally interact with different races
  • Avoid defensiveness
  • Be open to discussion
  • Be an ally

Senior psychology major, Jordan Brendle attended the lecture and felt he learned something.

“The lecture was really eye opening. I have always prided myself on not being racist. This lecture showed me that I have more work to do and it’s something you actually have to try not to be,” Brendle said.

Diversity week activities ended September 24.