Dr. Atiya Stokes-Brown, Vice President of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
For the initial week of the new Rotary year, we welcomed Dr. Atiya Stokes-Brown, Vice President of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion at Coastal Carolina University. Dr. Stokes-Brown spoke about the reality of racism in America. She noted that this civil protest is different as it is estimated that 61% of the protesters are “white”, which is a change in race inequity protests from the past.
So why is this widespread protest movement happening now after the George Floyd murder on May 25th? She believes that information is readily available; due to COVID 19 there are no distractions to take away from the issue and that the racism is so deeply visible in the Floyd killing and other black killings at the hands of the police in the last few years.
As to what individuals can do, she suggests:
1) Listen genuinely to the experiences of minorities
2) Read from resourced lists
3) Learn, Unlearn and Relearn racist and anti-racist behaviors
One part of racism for those that do not consider themselves racist is “implicit bias”. As an example of implicit bias, she pointed to the Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper case in New York City. Amy Cooper (white) called the police and indicated that a “black man threatened me”. This was after Christian (black) asked Amy to leash her dog as required by park regulations. By calling the police and then using keywords Amy activated longstanding bias in the US that black men are bound to do harm to white women. Dr. Stokes-Brown suggested that each of us complete the Harvard implicit bias test that over 9 million people have taken.
For the future we might consider teaching our children at home (about systemic racism early), influencing school curriculum [as to how history is taught, for example], and examining our own workplaces to see if biases are used in decision-making.
Written by: Scott Burleson
Published by: Brooke Vu