On Tuesday, March 7, Andrews University invited Sekenah Tennison, founder of Possibilities Network, and Rommel Johnson, founder of Eurisko Vocational Services to continue to inform and educate Andrews University students on unconscious bias and its relevance to race. Tennison and Johnson also presented at prior installments of the “Bend or Break: Diving Deeper” series on Feb. 26 and March 3, held at Meier Hall. This forum, held in the Howard Performing Arts Center, was the third and final installment of the “Bend or Break: Diving Deeper” series, discussing the topic of race.
The forum was entitled, “Diving Deeper: Let’s Talk about Unconscious Bias,” and it delved into the importance of talking about race and being aware of racial bias. Tennison and Johnson stressed that unconscious bias is not limited to preconceptions of the black community, as it is often associated with. It also includes Latinos, Asians and members of all minorities.
Tennison and Johnson provided this summary of the forum: “We understand that not one person alive today took part in the invention of race and racism. We also acknowledge that it is the inherited responsibility of this generation to examine and respond to ways that we keep it alive. This session provides context of the fight for racial justice by people of color. It also provides evidence of why racial justice today is not about slavery but current events. We will trace the journey of ‘race’ from the 1600s to today through the fabric of our American foundation. We believe we can tell the truth, advocate for personal responsibility and provide a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere for racial reconciliation.”
During the forum, Tennison and Johnson played a video titled “The Story of Race: A History,” which explained the origins of race, historical events surrounding race and whether or not we will need to reevaluate the term in the coming years.
A few students expressed their thoughts on the forum.
Makeda Jackson (sophomore, interior design) said, “It is true that everybody has subconscious bias, and most people don't realize it.”
Natalie Hwang (freshman, English) said, “It's something not many people are willing to admit exists in their lives. Race and unconscious bias are very real subjects in many people's lives, and so many people face microaggressions every day. To be unaware of those is so ignorant, especially in today's political climate.
“I think classifications of race are ingrained into today's society, but I'm not sure they're necessary,” Hwang said. “I appreciate how much they have contributed to people's pride in their heritage though. I would not be able to appreciate or be as fully a part of my Korean heritage if race was not classified or acknowledged.”
“It is important to talk about race and unconscious bias,” Jackson said. “Because in our society it is important to know about these thing because of everything that is going on in the world.”