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Bias Workshop Shares OPPRESSION Wheel, Asks Students to “Forgive Yourself”

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

"Presenters described the wheel as an 'opportunity to change our biases in our community interactions.'"

Author: Sergei Kelley

A bias workshop held during a MSU Fisheries and Wildlife class shared a “change and oppression” wheel. Students were encouraged to “rip up” worksheets and to “forgive yourself."

Hosted under the topic of “Race, Gender, and much more,” the workshop included an “Unconscious bias” video and four separate worksheets dealing with personal identities, biases and stereotypes.

Before handing out worksheets, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion presenters Katusha Galitzine and Phillip Seaborn warned students. “Forgive yourself ahead of time...we can ritualistically rip them all up together.”

The worksheet prompts were titled “Who are ‘they’? Who am I.”

Students were instructed to write what first came to their “instinctual brain” after seeing terms such as lawyer, black women, liberal, and others.

Galitzine told students their responses might “make you cringe,” which “can happen a lot,” she said.

Displayed in front of the classroom was a large “Four Levels of Oppression and Change” wheel. In bright orange, it displayed the four levels: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural. Cultural being the outermost, included “truth” defined as “what is considered to be ‘right’ and ‘normal.’”

Presenters described the wheel as an “opportunity to change our biases in our community interactions.”

The workshop further discussed equality vs. equity with their “Platinum Rule.”

They described equity and equality through multiple images showing that “giving everyone the same resources...doesn’t work,” and suggested different levels of resource distribution. Instead of the Golden Rule, the “Platinum Rule” means “treat others the way they would like to be treated.”

“Monitor each other for unconscious bias,” followed a video by the Royal Society. “All of us have it and it colors all our decisions without our realizing it.”

Galitzine called unconscious bias “brain shortcuts” where we think a “person’s opinion is more important than another person’s opinion.” She poses, “why am I thinking that, what is it about them?”

To help recognize personal identities, another worksheet was handed out where students would write their names in the center of a circle and then attach to lines off the circle, identities. What they believe defines them. This could be gender or race or other things the presenters stated.

Next, assumptions about those identities would be refuted. Galitzine instructed students to choose an assumption about an identity they listed and refute it in a blank space at the bottom of the worksheet.

She provided an example. “I don’t want people to assume that I hate men because I am a feminist.”

The workshop was held for nearly two hours, taking up the entire class time. It was held during Dr. Shawn Riley's Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Wildlife Management (FW434) class.

Contributor: Sergei Kelley

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