Speaker series covers critical conversation on biases


The second lecture in the Critical Conversations series, which covers subjects like race that can be difficult but are important to talk about, took place in the Malcolm Field Theatre at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.

The featured speaker was Paulette Granberry Russell, who delivered a lecture and answered audience questions on implicit bias in the workplace and in higher education. She is Michigan State University’s chief diversity officer, an officer of the board of directors for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and a licensed attorney.

The Critical Conversations series is organized by SVSU, the Saginaw Community Foundation and the Saginaw Intermediate School district. The goal of the series is to provide attendees thought-provoking topics that will encourage further dialogue on social justice and equity in the Saginaw community.

Russell’s talk covered the various aspects of implicit bias and how it can affect those around us, our coworkers and students in places like public universities.

Implicit bias is the unconscious association of certain qualities with members of social groups.

“The main point that I want you to walk away with is that they are universal,” Russell said. “We all have biases of some sort. I have them, and you have them.”

Russell began with the basics, explaining the different types of social identities people fall into. She then discussed how those identities might be judged unconsciously by people in positions of power and in everyday interactions.

She also talked about some high-profile instances of implicit bias in advertising leading to major public relations harm.

These instances included advertisements like a racially insensitive Dove Soap commercial and a shirt that bore a disturbing resemblance to Nazi concentration camp uniforms.