Bloomfield community meeting on bias and inequity, September 2, 2020
7:31PM Sep 8, 2020
Okay, Hi everybody, I'm unmuted, right? Good. Okay, so I'm going to do a bit of review for people who were at the last session just so that everybody starts out with the same foundational material. So this will sound very familiar to those of you who attended before. As a sociologist, we look at race as how in how it refers to physical differences that groups and cultures considered to be socially significant. So this is actually from a science textbook from the turn of the century, late 1800s. And you see how they classify people, men by race, and putting that in quotes, based on you know, where they're from and their physical characteristics and they've even created a hierarchy in this particular textbook with the white European man at the top. So that's basically what races it's a classification system. It is cultural and political, not scientific, and that's really important to remember is that there are no clear cut races there are no clear cut scientific races, just a range of variations of physical traits that we give meaning to. Racial distinctions are used to reproduce power and inequality, as we know. And in the US in particular, they were used and have been used to justify slavery to justify Jim Crow laws, continued discrimination and racism, among other things. So basic definition of racism is that it involves one group having the power to carry out this systemic discrimination through institutional policies and practices, practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those races. policies and practices. So it's sort of a sociological definition of racism. And there's a lot to unpack in there. So racism involves individual racism, which refers to people that people having beliefs, attitudes, biases, that we're going to talk about implicit biases about people based on their race. Interpersonal racism, which is public expressions of racism, slurs, hateful words, hateful actions, so we might think of racism in terms of just what it looks like when somebody wears Ku Klux Klan hood, right, but it's actually more subtle and harder to see them than that. And then also, it also includes institutional racism, which discriminatory practices, unfair policies, things that are built into institutions themselves that contribute to racism, and systemic racism. So the overall arching system of race, racial bias and inequality across society and that includes cultural representations that are racist. So there's a lot to unpack in that one definition of racism.
Thank you, Wendy. So, you know, Wendy mentioned how this kind of social construct of race can really influence our perspective on the hierarchy and what is valued and what our preferences are. So, these perceptions, these false perceptions of these differences, these perceived differences among people can lead to bias. So bias as you might recall, last time, by definition is a preference in favor or against something. So bias can also be that you prefer a particular group over another or that you are against a particular group, type of person, race, a person, what have you so buyers can express itself in many ways. So it may be held by individuals Or, or institution. So as Wendy just mentioned, their systemic racism there's there's racism that makes its way into all the structures that we might not even recognize has been part of its its foundation. So we'll talk a little bit about that as we go along. But it's most typically learned behavior. So the beauty of bias is that it can be learned that it is learned, and that it can also be unlearned. Once we become aware of it once we become reflective of the biases that we hope that could actually influence our behavior. So, you know, a lot of implicit bias or unconscious bias is a knee jerk reaction we've been. We've been exposed to thoughts and perceptions about people, through education, through our family through the conversations that they had a dinner table. So the people we went to school with The maybe the religion that we held. So there's all of these influences that we might be unaware of are contributing to biases that we now hold. So that when we react or respond to them, it's not even a conscious act, we see something we automatically have an unconscious reaction in preference for or against a particular group or person. Because somehow in the back of our mind, we've learned this thought this, this knee jerk response to a group of people or this person, system to that we use is this thoughtful, conscious way of being active in whatever it is that we're doing or how we are behaving, but that's less a part of our, our behavior that is that unconscious reactive part. So part of bias and the undoing of bias is to start to rely on this system of thinking and thoughtfulness and reflection around How we got to think the way we think, and determine if that thought process is actually based in any truth or is a value to us, right? So the two types of biases that are just thinking and this non thinking part of our brain are are either unconscious or conscious, right? And then they reveal themselves differently. So unconscious bias, which we're not aware of that that 95% of our brain just kind of knee jerk reaction. We might be thinking, you know what, my gut tells me something about this person or you know what, I don't care for that person or you go to a party or to an event and you kind of steer away from a certain group or person and move towards something more familiar or someone that has attributes similar to yourself, because somehow you're unaware that you're expressing bias. unconscious bias are those things when we're fully aware of how we feel how we think and then we act upon those things. So those types of behaviors are what can reveal themselves in discrimination and racist behaviors when we're consciously acting on and expressive expressed directly these behaviors based on conscious biases. Okay, so one of the things that we did talk about in our last session if you're with us, and we're about blind spots, and I just wanted to, once again, just touch on this concept, because I think it's very helpful to understand that we all have biases, we all have blind spots, because we all have very different upbringings. And we all have different experiences and exposures, and family units, right and cultures that we grew up. So because of that, we all have blind spots, just like in our cars, we have to double check behind us before we go in reverse because we know we can't possibly see everything. So that same awareness and that same reflection is what we're called to do if we really want to do the work of abandoning bias in our behavior, right. So instead of
letting go Our brains just act automatically we want to begin to reflect on why am I thinking this way about this person or group? Is this really truthful? Is this a value to me? Is this causing me to in some way, be marginalizing a group of people is this in some way, reducing my opportunities to have experiences and exposures to different people? Because somehow my brain is telling me that this is good, and this is bad or this is right and this is wrong. And it's really not valuable, nor is it correct. Okay. So I'm going to now introduce Joseph, if you would like to take over from here, Joseph, and leading into how implicit bias can start to lead into inequity.
Yes, so when we talk about bias, I'm sorry.
And we talked about how each individual has a level of bias, right? And so that we realize that each of us represent some part of society. And some of us are in decision making positions within society. And so this picture here, of course, is an African American man, young man and his shirt says your implicit bias is likely tell you to be afraid of me, don't be and that shirt is a response to when we look back over American history, black men in from the dawn of, of visual representation in in news articles and books, and all types of visual representation. Black men have been categorized as a threat and it has everything to do with the need to keep an oppressed people who are in chattel slavery oppressed. To maintain that impression, you need the general society to have a certain perception of them. Which brings me to one of my favorite phrases that our mentors gave me many years ago, is if the context is wrong, then the conclusion will always be wrong. And I'm sure everyone on this call can at least remember at least one time, you said something. And the person who heard you took what you said out of context, and it might lead to a very uncomfortable evening, if it was a if it was a couple. It might have led to some unanswered texts if it was a friend. It's just that when things are taken out of context, then whatever conclusion a person comes to is wrong. How that connects to bias is bias is about taking things out of context and not looking at the truth about what's in front of you. But taking these preconceived notions that are already in your subconscious that you think you can trust to make certain judgments. And obviously that that can have is detrimental on a smaller scale when making small decisions. But when we take this same mentality into positions of power, then it can have a mighty effect, intergenerational impact on people on society. And so it brings me to this question since tonight we're talking about bias and inequity. And so the first question is, what is an equity and equity is a lack of fairness or justice. All right. And so, now that we know that an equity is about the lack of fairness and justice, it's important to know what what is the language to help us understand and equity. So disproportionality is a key word to understanding in equity. It means to an extent that is too large or too small in comparison to something else, or an over representation. Another example of the language of inequity is under representation, insufficient or inadequate representation. I believe someone has said last week that you kind of spoke about the context of education. Well, when we talk about an equities, this is, this includes but is not limited to the areas of education, employment, health care, criminal justice, system, finance, or big businesses, right. And so an example of that would be when we look at school discipline, right, oftentimes when we look at the ratio of school discipline by the racial demographics, we find that African American students receive harsher punishment, maybe suspensions out of school suspensions at a higher rate than others. When we look at employment rates. We look at the disproportionate realm of this disproportionality in our employment rates, which I'll get to later with a little bit of data. But it just to let you know that in equities covers every facet of society. And so to build on the the breakdown about bias, this bias bleeds into decisions that are made by policymakers. And so, to dig a little deeper into the areas of inequity, so in education,
you have intellectual disability diagnosis in the field of education. This is when there is an evaluation done. But what we find is that black students are 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with having an intellectual disability than white American students, even if they're exhibiting the same behavior. inequities in employment would be that As of 2019, black workers are experiencing unemployment rates at 6.1%. As opposed to our white counterparts at 3.0%. And this is at all education levels. That means that whether we're talking about a high school diploma, some college,
a undergraduate degree,
or a master's degree, or the highest level of your doctorate degree, regardless of the level of one's education, unemployment rates differ almost by 50% between white workers and black workers in the field of health education, what we're dealing with now, but COVID-19 there's a disproportionate number of African Americans that are affected by it. And the reason is because of pre existing health conditions, and I just use terminology from one preexisting condition, which will be diabetes, which says that black citizens are 1.7 times more likely to receive it, then white citizens. And in this regard, this kind of opens the door to why that is because a lot of times the conditions to which African Americans live in, make them more susceptible to health complications. When we start talking about in terms of business, you may be familiar with the cares Act, the payment protection program that was put in place to help out and obviously when you look at the information, black businesses are more than qualified to receive protection. But because white businesses have a longer banking relationship with with financial institutions, when when the cares act opened up, and applications were turned in, those with the long standing representations received an over representation In terms of the portion of financial dispersion of the money and those links down below, you can kind of read those for yourself. So, that begs the question if this is inequity, then what is equity and I start off by explaining the difference between equity and equality. Equality, which is birthed in a positive place it means gives everyone the same thing. But without considering the advantages and disadvantages already in place. The best example I can think of, is if you have a person who has the activity have their arms and legs and you have a person who is confined to a wheelchair and you put them both in front of a staircase with 30 steps and you tell them on your mark, get set go and and to make people think we're now in a place in society, at least, I believe that given the the massive difference and contrast between a person with the activity of their limbs and a person in a wheelchair. We know that it is unfair to expect this person in the wheelchair to travel up these stairs without there being a ramp in place that but it's a staunch example of equality says, well, they were both put in front of the same staircase at the same time and from the same distance. But what the difference between equality and equity is equity factors in the advantages and the disadvantages, then provides the proper access and support to succeed. And so if you look at this picture on the side, right, and you can see the difference of between equality and equity. If you give everybody they have, they may have different height. But if you give everyone a box or a stool of the same size, that does not make up for the fact that a person's height is going to keep them From the same level of success as somebody that is taller, but on this right side, when you see equity, you meet people that their point of need and you consider the starting point. So the definition of equity is a quality of being fair and impartial a mindset, a system a systematic process and approach that ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities, it recognizes that advantages and barriers do exist. And as a result, we do not all start from the same place
Yes? So, you know, with all of this information on race and bias and inequity, you know, we we, we talked last time about what could we do? What can we actually do to start to open up our perspectives and understanding of the differences among us, and in reflecting on what biases we may hold ourselves? What could we do differently or more have over the 30 days since our last time together that might open up our experience to learn, to grow, to connect with others. And so we just wanted to take a moment before we go on to see if anyone had any particular experiences since our last time together in which they took advantage of some of the wonderful resources and tools which Bloomfield township has provided to the community, from books and readings, to podcasts, to movies, films, to following different social media advocates, to kind of see different perspectives. So we wanted to open it up and certainly engage and understand if there were any instances of our experiences that you had that somehow opened up your perspective and where maybe biases lie or maybe just growing in information that you didn't prior. No
If you'd like to speak, you could type speak into chat or you can raise your hand by a little button that allows you to raise your hand.
So I'll start a little bit just to kind of to perhaps get things going. One I found, you know, I as part of my work, this is sort of related to that area. So in many ways I am familiar with with some with much of what was discussed, but I found it I shared I think this shared this with Councilwoman Mendell is I think that it's important as a practice to really have like an accountability partner. You know, a community of people You asked to hold you accountable for your commitment. So if you feel that having you know, your that you you desire to be and you know, have an anti racist approach. And we talked about biases being learned and unlearned, it also requires some some accountability. I mean, because if you say something and you're using it, you're saying something or think something that they may seem perfectly normal for you. But having someone in your life who says what you you know, you made this commitment to be better and this might be a, an important way to do that. You know, I and I use the example of, you know, in our house, we're all we're all we hold each other accountable in our house and my daughter held me accountable for or an ageist laughing at something that was a little ages but ages toward young people and and and and so I was quite comfortable you know waiting in it and you know it and and really when I thought about it it was sort of making fun of of young people in a way that that is not consistent with the way that I want to that I believe that I approached the world so I think having people who will honestly tell you that's my that's not what you said you weren't you wanted to do. So that's just maybe one one experience that I had, but I'm pretty sure that there may be for others. I'm just really tap dancing default other people think I didn't want to share that because I really felt like that that was a takeaway from me, is how important it is to have. You know, it's one thing to set a goal in your mind to be anti racist, but you also have to have people or you know, to be to, you know, appreciate people into and try to get to purge yourself have biases, but it's really important to have people in your life that will hold you accountable to that.
Don't believe important to be able to receive that feedback the way that you did. I worked in an organization once where we had accountability partners and the beauty of that was not only that you could hold someone accountable, but that there was this trust in that process to be able to receive that feedback and be inspired to to see things differently because you respect and value the perspective of the person that is your accountability partner.
Do you have something Joseph before I go on,
um, to piggyback off of the accountability partner, I know affinity groups are very good. When when because it serves as a a group of accountability partners and it provides a safe place where one can speak their mind, in a space where they're not going to immediately be considered offensive. And it gives them the ability to ask, you know, we love to say in the field of education, there's no such thing as a dumb question. And that means even we, as adults who are striving to learn, need to have a space where we can ask things that sometimes when all the demographics are present, you would not dare ask question, but you need to have a space so that you can know so that you can grow. And so I definitely commend Bloomfield for having these types of conversations to where we can be. That's the only way we're going to advance as society as a whole. But that but I definitely want to piggyback on the accountability partner and maybe the affinity group idea can be somewhere to build even beyond the conversations. Absolutely, absolutely.
So, you know, I think one of the reasons Councilwoman Davidson Mundo had even you know, approach this These community conversations was to give people not only the information but the opportunities to explore how can we do things differently? And how could we be doers of the work of undoing bias and racism in our community and amongst one another. So, you know, we thought it important to share with you some important language that might be helpful in identifying where are the different places and ways and opportunities for us all to be engaged in this dismantling of racism and its undoing. And one of the words we hear often is the word ally. And ally ship is you know, beyond just saying I understand there's an equity I get it. But an ally is someone that is truly in support of people in causes that have oppressed people. So they stand with individuals or groups to be part of the solution and demonstrating their support of the of these marginalized groups to ensure that there's power and there's strength in this togetherness and the support for one another, you know, all for one and one for all type of mentality. So that's when we hear that word ally. That's what ally means and ally ship can demonstrate itself in different forms and fashions. And you'll hear many words, and there's a lot of terminology around this concept of ally ship, a couple that I wanted to share with you, which are really only different by the degree of engagement, which you might have in demonstration of that support for one another. So an advocate, when you hear about advocates, these are people who will actually do the work they will write support or plead in favor of a group. Okay, so they're actually doing so we open this segment up with the word Dewar, because they are doers of the word, and instead of just holding this belief system, they go beyond just having this belief of equity and and go further to do something about undoing The marginalization of groups or people's, now an activist, they go even beyond that. So they will actually participate in moving for social change through these campaigns. And we see a lot of that in our, in our society right now we see a lot of people becoming engaged in activism because they really want to be a part of the undoing of, of police violence, or, you know, violence within their communities and racism within their communities. And so they are part of trying to push forward this social movement of change. And then accomplice, which you might hear the word and I think many do they hear the word accomplice and they think of something negative. But an accomplice in this world of anti racism is, is most one of the highest ways that you can demonstrate ally ship and support. So this means that you want to be part of undoing the systems that perpetuate racism. So when Joseph spoke about the systems that have woven their ways into To the educational system, into the healthcare system, into maybe policing into the financial
health of communities, these people accomplices want to undo all of that. And so they are part their accomplice, their conspirators, they're activists, they're advocates, they're allies. They are everything because they're passionate, and they're truly engaged in this undoing. So when you think about what can I do? Well, these are some different ways that you can get engaged and get involved in in demonstrating your ally ship. Okay. So, you know, I come from, you know, like a corporate world and I've worked in different types of industries and organizations. And, you know, so one of the ways that I see every day for those of us who go to work every single day, I always look for opportunities to be an ally, to be an advocate to see where I can be part of a solution and uplifting and so I think it's helpful to see some of these actions And maybe you see them in your own world and how you can begin even tomorrow to be an ally for some of your colleagues. So this example is right from Adobe. And this particular woman just spoke about the fact that she had a boss who every time she spoke, he confirmed the value and the importance and the credibility of what it was that she was saying. So he was thereby demonstrating to everyone else. This person has my support, she's credible, and I support her and he sponsored her. Oftentimes, for marginalized groups, whether it's women or people of color, there are opportunities in organizations where you're not necessarily heard or opinions aren't as equally valued. So an ally in this situation, was an advocate who showed vocal support for this person just by simply saying, that's a great idea. I hear you That was wonderful. Let's Let's listen to what this person And had to say because what she said has value. And so she talked about how that just that simple act of ally ship and advocacy demonstrated such support for her and her professional experience. I'm one that I think anybody who's ever worked in any organization can speak to is a toxic meeting culture. If they exist in an in your organization or sometimes in departments or in clusters, within a department, sometimes only the loudest voices are the most dominant voices are heard. So in this particular instance, when we talk think about people being at the table that are of different color, gender, gender, backgrounds, experiences, not everyone is equally heard. So what this person did as a Dewar of trying to undo racism, or bias in that small microcosm of their experience, was to say, you know what, let's create a structure. Let's dismantle Until the current structure that doesn't lend to having everyone be heard, be valued and be be respected. Let's undo that and rebuild it to be one where everyone gets hurt. So let's build an agenda. Let's make sure everyone's points get heard. Let's make sure everyone's opinions are given credibility and given an opportunity to be discussed. So this is almost that kind of accomplice mentality we talked about a little while ago, which is something had to be dismantled and broken down and be built up again, to build equity into the conversation and communication. So there's a number of these examples, and maybe we'll circle back to them a little bit later. But I just wanted you to be aware that organizations and in our workplaces and our communities and our social groups, we have these opportunities every single day to connect with one another and we'll see certain organizations creating it to be a high priority because they understand how it How much they value and, and this is just an example I pulled off of Apple's website because it's such something that they value different together that is a prominent piece of their their web presence. So, understanding that I want to start to explore how do we become notices of inequality around us how do we become notices of biases and inequities that are in existence in our presence, so that we can start to be doers of dismantling them?
Yeah. So what becomes crucial to the knowing and growing that we spoke of earlier is how to see an equities like once a popular phrase right now is whether or not a person is woke. Right That means are they and long time ago the word then was conscious. Are you aware of the realities? that are happening systemically, that affect different people from from other demographics differently than you. And so how to see inequities getting to know what you don't know. And I guess that is the first step to realize that there are some things that you simply are unaware of, and that there is a need and sometimes that takes forever to get to, you know, when we start talking about inequities, you know, there was a long time when men acted as you know, actors, though, women demanding equal rights, equal pay, you know, and things of that nature. See, you know, they were like, well, we don't see it, I don't see anything wrong. Until there was an awakening that took place and there in the people had to be willing. I remember men in my own family went from men who thought they knew to realize and they didn't know and now they know better. And a part of doing that, in the four points broken down is first, the historical context provides an Understanding for today's conditions, it's important to realize that when these inequities that we see did not happen overnight. Not only did they not happen overnight, but they were systematically put in place. And so it's important to recognize that there were things that were put in motion and so that to keep things in historical context, when we start talking about knowing what we don't know, we have to be willing to exchange popular beliefs for the facts. There's there's some things that are popular to believe. But when the facts are presented before us, then it is time to say okay, that that's not necessarily the case. discomfort is a sign of growth, even this conversation. There's a lot of communities that are are looking to Bloomfield, from what I hear for leadership, on even the notion of having dialogue like this because it is uncomfortable but guess what the discomfort is a sign of growth. In other words, you can't shrink back from it. A lot of times we say no pain, no gain that comes from uncomfortable conversations that the pain of having to have some of what you thought some of the things that our parents and our parents parents told us about another group of people to discover that's not accurate, it wasn't accurate, then it most certainly isn't accurate now, but to be able to be brave enough to face those, those things is a sign of growth, and then to walk them out on someone else's shoes. To in order to have a an equity lens. You have to be able to see what life is like in someone else's experience.
At the bottom is is an equity lens provides the perspective necessary for all citizens, decision makers and gatekeepers to understand inequities and to use our positions of power and influence as parents, neighbors can be leaders, business owners, workers, supervisors, educators, policymakers and others to provide equitable access and opportunity. And I'll give an example. I went to a private school in Bloomfield, and I was a part of a class that had for the first time this particular private school had a majority of African American students than any other democratic and that was, it had never happened before. And there was a lot of underlying racism and things that were going on in terms of perceptions from the community and society. And I'll, I'll never forget, a good friend of mine, white friend of mine named john me and him love to cut up in class as boys do. And I remember as we would go through school because we went to school together from kindergarten to about fourth or fifth grade, and each year, and he would he would cut up a little bit more than me, right? And of course, he's not here to defend himself. But what we found interesting is that when report cards were given out, it would say that Joseph needs to, you know, needs to stop cutting up, but there will be no record in my friend John's report card of any kind of acting out. And we thought at the time it was comical right that it would they would identify myself as somebody being a troublemaker. And john it was it was no matter of record nothing was ever sent home No comments were ever in his report card but me that report card is you know, follow me from grade to grade. And in the reason I say that is because some of the teachers we have had stellar reputations in the community. But when she saw john cut up, john, being a white gentleman like her demographic john look like the brother she grew up with the nephew that she had, maybe even her own son. So that behavior reading up on john looked a certain way, in her perspective. But it looked differently on Joseph, who comes from a demographic that was come so that she didn't have personal relationship interaction with our principal because our class was majority African American. He took the time out back then as a white principal, to talk to this entire community about loving children no matter what their background was, and being open and honest about challenging our perceptions. And so that would be an example of an equity lens, influencing one's person a position of power.
That's wonderful. And you know, I love that you could tie in what what someone actually did when they observed this, this situation happening and that's what we would love to explore with, with all of you this evening. You know, these kinds of opportunities. These that we encounter, what would we do when we encounter them? How could we be an ally? How could we be an advocate? What can we do to undo those, those situations and circumstances? So we have some scenarios for you. And you know, whether you care to share them in the chat or or comment, we'd love to hear from you your thoughts about what might you do in these situations?
And I would add to that, there's no right answer. Like when I teach these in class, I don't you know, I tell students, you're not going to like get an F, you're not going to get it wrong. These are just meant to help you think through, you know, some very real situations that you could come, you know, that you could encounter in your daily life that could surprise you and make you go, Oh, geez, I didn't expect that person to say that or I didn't expect to hear that at the Thanksgiving dinner table. What do I do, right, and a lot of your responses are going to be different. Depending on your relationship with the individual, you're closest with them how comfortable you feel, what words you feel comfortable using with that individual. But you know, think of it and try to kind of stretch yourself to be a little bit brave. Like if you were in these situations, what would you do? So this one, I guess I could read it out loud even though you could read it too. But not everyone has visuals. I don't think you are getting lunch with a co worker Susie, that you have worked with for many years but haven't spent a lot of time with. Suzy opens up to you about her dilemma of putting her daughter in public or private school. Private School is expensive. But when talking about her racially mixed public school, she says, you know those black boys, they just don't know how to behave. How would you respond?
And you can use the chat. You can raise your hand.
no right or wrong answer.
Okay, so we have one answer in the chat somebody said they know many white boys that can't behave, you should not generalize like that. So that's definitely a potential response. Right. Anyone else? Anyone would not respond maybe. Dr. Hill What makes you think that so yeah, you could you could ask a question you could answer by asking a question. You know what makes you think that did you have an experience that makes you think that depending on your relationship with that person, it depends on how much they're willing to tell you. Right. Like Kathy said, I would ask her if she has any personal experience with misbehaving boys how she handled it in the past. You could also share that, you know, you know, kids that go to that school that there isn't behavior issues, you could ask what makes her think there are behavior issues? How does she know that? Just questions are always a good a good thing. You don't need to come out and say, That's racist, right? Instead, you want to ask questions and kind of have her think a bit about it and what it means. Have her unpack it a little bit. there's a there's a great podcast that I just finished listening to, called nice white parents. I'm not sure if anyone's heard it yet. It's the New York Times put it out. And it's about New York City, Brooklyn Public school systems, and racial segregation and there's a mother who's interviewed and back in the 50s or 60s, I think She wrote a letter because she to the board of education because she wanted to move her kids from suburbs into Brooklyn so that they would have diversity. That was her goal. And she was advocating to the Board of Education to diversify and integrate the school system. When she got there. She actually decided not to send her kids to a public school, she sent them to a private school, and the interviewer and you'll hear it on the podcast asks her to reflect back on like, you know, 30 years ago on herself and how she made that decision. And she says, You know, I visited the public school system, it was racially the Board of Education to diversify and integrate the school system. I was is there an echo? Was that just me? Um, she actually decided not to send her kids to a public school she sent them to a private damn hearing an echo but are you hearing me hear it on the podcast asks, like to back on, like, you know, 30 years ago on herself how she made that decision, and didn't stop. No, I visited the public school system. It was racially
did it stop? Okay, good.
Yeah. So so they asked her, you know, why why did you not send your kid there? And she went on a school tour. And she said, You know, I thought the kids were just really chaotic. And the interviewer was like, Well, what do you mean? You know, why did you think the students were chaotic What happened? You know what? And and eventually she got out of this woman reflecting back on herself from 30 years ago that she was probably saying something that had racial bias in it that she was probably evaluating those kids as being chaotic in the classroom, because they weren't white that her implicit bias had led her to that. And then hearing her reflect on herself back then and realizing that she was acting out of it. Her implicit bias is just really interesting. And it's a very great, it's a very good podcast, highly recommended. Okay, so next scenario, and this one actually happened to me, I should say, so I'm interested very, very close by in New Jersey. Let's say you're running in a local park and you notice that Black teenagers playing on the basketball court. You've seen them before and you think nothing of it. On your way back around the loop. You see a white woman talking to police near the basketball court and pointing toward the teams. So you're nosy and you run nearby. And you hear her say, they don't live here and they shouldn't be playing here. What do you do?
This is like that moment in the classroom with my students where there's no one answering anyone. Anyone want to
you Here's a couple of people in the chat. Okay. Kathy, remind the police about the law. Oh, that Governor Murphy just signed yesterday. Oh, that was Yes. That people can't misuse 911 Absolutely. That's a great idea. You say they're playing nicely whether or not they reside in this town. You should leave them alone. Claudia would probably wait and see what the police do. Yeah, so I mean, those are all all really good options. And, and actually, what I ended up doing in this situation because this actually happened to me was I ended up saying, you know, that the that the park is, is not restricted to people whether or not they live here and that the woman had no idea whether or not they live there, and just kind of was and the cop just shrugged it off, and didn't really take it seriously. So it didn't end up escalating. But it was a moment where I felt like I had to intervene, because there were a lot of implicit bias and assumptions going on with that particular woman. Okay, um, okay, housing Secretary You're in your front yard and your elderly neighbor Dorothy, who you've lived next to for 10 years comes over and says Hello. You're chatting about the house for sale next door and the changing neighborhood and Dorothy says I sure hope a black doesn't move in there. When blacks come in the whole neighborhood goes to hell Dorothy continues to tell you why the value of her home of your home will be affected. What do you do
okay, Stacy in the in the chat said she would call her out on a racist comment like that. Be upfront about it. Tell her the comment was offensive. And those are definitely good options.
And you could partner with more questions like why does she think that?
kind of help her see that maybe her views are unfounded.
Okay. And this one?
Yeah. You could also say like, that hasn't been my experience. Right. You could also talk from your own experience. An acquaintance acquaintance asked what you were up to this weekend. You said, Oh, I'm going to this workshop to learn about racism. He looks startled and says interesting. I wouldn't need that. I'm colorblind. I don't see race. Only the human one. What would you say?
Okay so Stacy says that's ridiculous we see it but we can act toward treating all races equitably so called column out that it's ridiculous not to see color but that it's important to address it that's a great option
How can you empathize with experience if you don't see who they are? We really I learned that only white people can be colorblind. So that so that's one thing that I would maybe do too is talk about the fact that there are differences in how people are treated based on their race. So to be colorblind is to invalidate those experiences and instead encourage them to have some empathy, right for the differences that people experience because of race and racism. Yeah, and none of us is colorblind, it's impossible. It's a great point.
And if I could put in there, I think that probably one thing is that that oftentimes when people say they're there that they are colorblind, I think I know that the intention is good, right? There. They are absolutely trying to make a statement of sort of passive anti racist statement. But that but as you mentioned before, they're sort of There is complexity to it. And the ability to recognize, you know, to first of all be conscious of the fact that you definitely are people see it all the time people are
by nature. We, we,
we sort the world. But it also requires, you know, saying that you don't see it, it means that you're not actively working on on any biases that you might have. You assume you don't have any when they may be working, actively working all the time. So I try very hard to to anytime anyone ever tells me that they don't see color, or they're colorblind. I know the statement at the moment is meant to be well intended, and I take it in that spirit, but I look for opportunities to how to try to expand that conversation so that we can have a little bit more understanding about all what that might mean. behind what what that statement says but I I do want to say that because he It's so often I don't want somebody to, to feel offended or defensive about it. Um, but but put to take a moment to be reflective on what that also might mean if you say that you're colorblind.
I'm sorry I do.
But I do think it's a great opportunity to to point out that to do something about racism to be an ally to be an advocate, then to be an accomplice then you do have to see race, right, you have to see the inequities, you have to see racism. So to come from to recognize they're coming from maybe a good place and then encourage them to expand on that is a great idea. Okay.
So this is an example in a work environment. So in this example, and African American candidate was interviewed by the hiring manager and by other colleagues with whom he would have to work closely. There weren't any other African American managers in the company. Every one was unanimous in their decision that he was the best candidate. the hiring manager mentioned to the recruiter that he didn't think the department staff would accept him because he was black. So now think if you were the recruiter in that situation, what would you do?
If this were to happen in your workplace
have gotten some of the Jeopardy music while we're waiting
While we're maybe waiting for some people to chime in, I know it's a tough one because in the workplace, it's really the situation that makes this complicated is the power, right? You might be dealing with management versus someone that's a frontline staff member that might not have the same equity of power. So how you challenge this when you're in that type of circumstance. So Stacy says maybe point out that a diverse workforce makes everyone's experiences richer, as we bring things all bring things to the table. Excellent. challenge to change. And Claudia latonya says challenge to change Claudia says I would challenge his assumptions. Good. So you have a range of responses from trying to hope to invite this person to see things differently to straight on dead on Channel They're their beliefs. And so sometimes it's not an easy situation where you're dealing with a peer or a neighbor, or someone with whom you feel like you have power to your equity. So when in those situations become a little stickier, to be a doer or an ally, or an advocate. So in this particular instance, you know, I really remember the manager being encouraged to have a different perspective and ultimately did hire this person who turned out to be a wonderful employee and manager. So the recruiter did challenge this manager. And the beauty of it was She challenged the manager, but the manager also received that information and, and actually went through with hiring that person and was very, very happy with this decision. So that instance, changed his perspective, probably permanently. Had she not challenged him that might have continued and that inequity in that organization could have continued. Here's another one. The manager of a department was known for intimidating colleagues to agree with her selection of employees. She was a known bully, and her colleagues knew she would retaliate if they crossed her. When candidates of color were chosen by the recruiters, she would object. Her typical commentary was that she thought the candidate wasn't a good fit. Coworkers knew this was code for non white. So what would you do if you worked in this organization and you knew this existed?
But Tanya says she would contact the ethics hotline.
Yes, it's dicey, but I prefer to HR, the challenge is that if HR doesn't do anything, it's risky. But you have to say something. That's what Kathy says, wonderful. So it's clear that in this particular instance, sometimes we see that there's something that's so systemic or dicey or risky, that we have to involve others to try to dismantle this practice. When we see something that's become a practice something regular, and we start to see a pattern of behavior which we can no longer excuse. We understand that this is racism and action. This is bias inaction and it's creating an equity in the workplace. It's very important than to to work with your your HR team and to work with an ethics team to try to find resolution and solution and to start to look more deeply into the hiring practices within those various departments where there might be inequities. Claudia says there was a situation that came up like this recently and the staff went to the board and then took it to social media. You So, you know, no, no organization wants to be known to have be practicing racism and discrimination in their hiring practices, right. So if there is a concern that is truly something that any organization worth its weight would want to address and would want to quickly respond to swiftly. So all of these are great points to look to see how can we address this head on so this doesn't continue. But, you know, no one said, look the other way, ignore it. So I'm happy to see that everyone has some thought about what action can be taken to undo this behavior.
There's Eric and I make a comment,
Um, what I think is phenomenal about these scenarios is that these are true real life situations. And I know that when, when you be when a person goes from kind of being unaware, to becoming aware of just how Big, the systemic problem of racism is, it can be awfully overwhelming to the point that it can paralyze a person. But what I what I love about us walking through these examples, and the connection I want to make is that just by you, taking the advice that had been put in the chat and putting it into action, can literally change someone's life. And I mean that in a real sense. The first one of the scenarios you gave was the policing scenario. I believe when he was saying of, of a group of young people plan and then a woman thinking about calling the police. I have lived that reality. And I've seen it go both ways. I've seen the other side of that. And when you look at what's in pop in news today, and what sometimes happens, well, I guess what I'm encouraging to the people that Participating, you may actually be saving a life by by doing something as simple as checking somebody on their bias. Because oftentimes we don't see what happens. When silence happens, we don't, because we're oblivious, we don't see it. The housing thing, you know, you have, it could be somebody, first generation homeowner. You know, it can spark that, by you stepping up, may create a reality where a person has an opportunity that may be brand new to their family, the job situation, the reason just to connect it to the data I was saying earlier, somebody's not being brave and not challenging the hiring manager and remain silence that could equal that could turn into a non opportunity in a non hire situation for that person, which pushes the unemployment. And if you don't have a means to take care of your family as stress amongst other things, And so I just wanted to say that this, these are these real life examples, and the chat, the people putting together strategies to react. Just know that even though it's a big problem, if each of us take our own bite and our own perspective places and spaces, then we can defeat this thing.
Absolutely 1,000% agree. And you know, a lot of these examples I know for Wendy and myself, they are things that I've observed in some way, shape or form or another. And sometimes we're in a position where we're able to impact the outcome of these situations. So there's the choice, am I going to do something or not and, you know, we all will be witnesses to experiences as Joseph mentioned, and, and in that moment of making a choice to look the other way or to actually be an advocate or an ally. In that moment can make all the difference in someone's life. And as everyone is doing that, that's how we start to make social change and communities transform. Okay, here's one I'm an African American female manager advocated for frontline employees who were being excluded from an incentive program. She was accused of being resistant and difficult, while other Caucasian leaders were complimented for firmly challenging the status quo. So what would you do?
Perhaps you're in the room when this is happening and this person is being chastised for advocating for other employees. And you're sitting at the table, your appear.
what would you do?
I'll jump in while we're waiting. You know, I want to go that example that you had mentioned about Adobe, I think it was where the manager when someone else spoke in the room, the manager had affirmed that person's comments before. So as an ally, you could, I would stand up and I really like that idea. So I would probably stand up and affirm, you know, this other person's comments, as well. Mm
hm. So, absolutely.
You know, and that might seem like a small thing, but that goes far away when you're an island and you're standing all by yourself to all of a sudden have an ally in the room. That that goes tremendously far. So to be able to say, Well, wait a minute, you know, you know what Susan said I think has a lot of value. I see where she's coming from. And I think we need to listen to her. You know, I've been in many rooms, where I've said something that's small, and it kind of shifted from that person being under attack to now having some opportunity to explain their points of view and people giving them the opportunity to share and to give credibility. And we can all be allies in those moments. latonya says she's done that many times. It is effective. Yes, yes. So and, you know, noticing it, because, you know, I think part of the beauty of these conversations are making us hyper aware of how these biases show up in our everyday scenarios. And if we're not looking for them, we're not aware of it, we're not aware of the underlying intonation of under underneath it, we might just let it pass us by. So within this circumstance, here, someone's behavior is being completely misconstrued. And and being assumed to be negative traits, while others demonstrating the same behavior. It's assumed to be a positive trait.
So that's that ends our what would you do section and we would love to hear from some of you if you have some questions or comments. I see one coming through from Claudia. I would recognize and support her comments and link them to other women, because maybe they did not see how like they were and, and give the source. Very good.
So it seems like we have participants that have regularly identified and experienced these types of behaviors and notices of it. We'd love to hear from you. you about some of the situations that you've experienced and maybe how you have handled it and maybe how you've been able to in the process of responding to some of these inequities in the workplace in the community just in going for a run, how you handle them and what what are some recommendations you might have for others of us to be able to address these behaviors when we see them or we encounter them?
Hi, this is latonya. Can you all hear me?
all the time? Yes, we can hear you.
Hi, I I would like to share I actually have, you know really witnessed during the course of years in corporate America, these discrepancies and you know, behaviors. And I always challenge I feel like I'm like the Joan of Arc. of whichever group I'm in, I was at a pharma company and I had some other minority friends from, you know, different backgrounds Venezuela Brazilian. And for some reason, the three of us in this particular example, we're stuck in this dead end role, and an administrative role. And, you know, myself, I have my degree, I would post for 20 racks in the seven, eight years. I was there for eight years, nine years, but five or six at this point, and I wouldn't even get an interview. And I had some HR experience. So, you know, I challenged HR and I said, You know, I know how the system should work from being a junior recruiter, I haven't even been, you know, offered afforded an opportunity to interview and my skill set is transferable etc. So literally of the 20% Things I got two interviews, one of which I really fought for, then I got that they actually had someone internal. And my experience in HR was like too far in the past. So I said, okay, but I just want to bring it to your attention. The system is flawed. And I think it's an opportunity that you all are missing here at this company, because there's a lot of talent. And I knew that this had happened to other people. Essentially, you know, God had opened the door for new HR business partner to come in. And I just got the courage to ask to meet with her. And I really related to the not the actual experiences, but my experience my skill set up, I let her know that I was very interested in you know, moving forward, I posted for different roles. I knew I had the skills I was actually overqualified for some of them. I didn't name initially the recruiter that was consistent in those scenarios. However, you know, she heard me out. She She attempted To defend the system initially, and I just said, Okay, well hear me out. And I laid out an example literally flipped out a flip chart and everything and showed her how, you know, my one colleague who tried to get a role that was very similar had we had all the, you know, identifying skill sets. And so she basically agreed to help me going forward. If I had a post, she looked at my resume, and she would compare it to the roles I had sent her, followed her instructions, and she basically said, she also send me things that she thought was was good for me. I ended up with like seven or eight interviews. And even when the recruiter that was discriminating against us, came into play, I then let her know but I think my strategy was that I was just very positive about my team and my experience, I didn't really shedding light on all the negative. I just said to her, I know that there is an opportunity to That's missed here, I laid out for her some of the accomplishments, the fact that I had continuous performance reviews that were, you know, great. I have a great relationship with my team. But I owe it to myself to try to excel. And if you, you know, if this doesn't work, what do you recommend? And so I kind of gave her the ball, and then she basically returned it with. Okay, here's what I'll do. So I held her accountable as that HR professional, and she basically helped me from then on and I literally was able to post out eventually got a great offer, and I've been in management ever since. So I say all that to say, I think it's a combination of advocating for yourself and challenging the system while highlighting the positive. I think that it's always very foolish to, you know, use discrimination as the issue even though you know that it is you Have to just really be diplomatic in the way that you say it, because it's very sensitive, and I didn't want to offend while I was trying to get my point across. But, you know, Midway in the process, she was still able to recognize that there was some discrimination.
Said it not that's helpful, but that's what I wanted to share about my story.
That's an awesome testimony. latanya I mean,
you know, this probably so many, like you gone through the, the pains of knowing that there's something underlying behind decisions for them to not be selected or move forward or progress or promoted and knowing that but yet having to figure out your own strategy to get above and beyond it. is, is it's commendable that you had that. That approach, very positive approach. And I think you're absolutely right. I mean, when you say you remain positive throughout the whole thing, you, you highlighted your skills, you highlighted the positives, you highlighted what you brought. So it came to the point where it was undeniable. But yet still, you have to go through all those hoops in order to get to that particular outcome. I'm happy that it ended well for you, sorry, you had to go through it. But when you were able to find an ally in HR to support you and to
work with you and to help you and to advise you and to certainly
advocate, as well.
Thank you for listening. Absolutely. Thank you for sharing
Anyone else had some experiences that they may wish to share? or any of our speakers that have had some experiences that they think could be enlightening or helpful to our participants and others
as well, perhaps, you know if anyone would like to share that they had made two anti racist behavior that about the welcome.
I guess I could add a bit about being an ally when you have privilege You can use it right? So depending on whether or not it's a workspace or a group you're in or a committee you're in. It shouldn't always be the the people of color, the black people who are pointing out injustice and inequity and racism, right. It's also the responsibility of white people who have the privilege to point that out to also do that work. And that's something that you know, to keep in mind when you want if you want to be a good an active ally, that when you see something going on, you know, use your privilege if you have a position of power. And then you can also use that position of power to actually speak out and make some change, right, that the burden shouldn't always fall like the burden of diversity and inclusion shouldn't always fall on the black and brown people in the room. So as white people, there's important work to do.
Thank you ready? I think we have Kim would like to say something
can Can you unmute yourself? Yes, yes. Can you hear me? Yeah. Hi, everybody. I'm the HR director for the township of Bloomfield. And it's been wonderful, listening to everybody shared experience. And, you know, I'm so grateful and thankful that the American administration is actually sending me for diversity and inclusion training. Also, one of my other colleagues is taking the course. So, you know, it's very uncomfortable, you know, as a white woman to participate in a conversation about race, so I mostly just listen. But, um, Councilwoman Tao mentioned sharing your own experience and your own commitment that you're making to the anti racist movement. And that's something that I do feel comfortable talking about, I mean, even in these courses, things that I'm reading as a white person, you know, I'm reading and going, and this feels a little uncomfortable. I don't necessarily agree with it. But what the most, the biggest thing that I learned is it's not up to me to tell somebody else how they're feeling. About being discriminated against. So while I was reading it and saying no, that's not me. No, that's not my organization. No, that's not my family. We don't do this at some of this systemic issues that are just built in that we're unaware of. So you guys talked a lot about the awareness piece, which is what I'm focusing on my commitment for the township of Bloomfield, you know, if I see something to speak up, and I have been in those situations in my personal life where someone made a racist joke or a racist comment, and it took years to say it, this just happened to me, like about a year ago, a family friend, and I said, You know what, excuse me, this is very offensive. I don't appreciate the comment, and I'm going to leave the room. And you know, while my heart was racing, and I was the only one that was saying something, it sure felt good when I walked out of that room to take a stand, you know, for my own belief system. And I think overall, this administration has done a really great job at looking at our workforce. And saying, hey, let's give this person an opportunity. Let's let that woman Speak up, you know, I can go on forever about just being a female, you know, in the business world and all the microaggressions that I have to deal with when someone's talking over me or they don't want to listen to your idea, but someone else has the same idea who's a male and you know, they listen. So I'm just in a transformational phase, along with the township and this administration into trying to make things better and have our workforce reflect the community they serve. So you know, I appreciate everyone and hopefully we can get together and host more training. So thank you.
Thanks, Kim. I appreciate your comments.
I just want to say, Kim, I appreciate your comments. It is always, and I'm appreciative of all the panelists, especially those who work for the city that are a part of it. Because for, for those who've done work like this when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion, or just an understanding bias and the impact, and the different times that I've worked with different counties, or schools and organizations, it is I think one of the most rewarding things is when people equal decision making positions, get it, because it just like, we're talking about how racism is systemic. Well, we need anti racism to become systemic, because it takes one system to counter another system. And when we create a culture and policy, that's about equity. Now we're talking about intergenerational change. That will be here long after the committed people and charismatic individuals that may have begun that journey are gone. And so just know that yourself and others like you, the to be opening in a part of, as you were saying diversity and inclusion training, that that is an awesome an awesome example of why conversations like this need to continue.
Absolutely. And you know, and Kim, I think it's wonderful that you share your journey because that's what it is. It's a journey and you don't wake up one day with an epiphany and you're completely changed and transformed and have a different awareness. I mean, it happens over time. And there are things that are brought to your attention, and you reflect and you become more aware and we mature. And so along this journey, I think it's a gift to do to say So allow I see that differently than I saw before, and I'm going to Do something differently than I did before. And, you know, I think it's a beautiful testament to the wisdom that you have to be able to share that. And, you know, I think the beauty of diversity inclusion training, you know, I, I hope that more people do feel that that's a safe space to explore their thoughts and their feelings. Because, you know, it's not always just, it's not about right or wrong. It's about how did you become? How did we come to this place to think the way we think? How did we come to this place to believe what we believe? And how can we learn to understand each other more, and learn what's valuable to us and learn how to see things from another perspective, which you eloquently sharing how you came to that understanding to see things maybe from another person's perspective. And I think we're all always growing in that way. And the beauty of these conversations is having that safe environment to be able to do that to learn together to grow together, and to then leave the circumstances and go out and do something differently. And that's how change happens. And so I really appreciate you sharing that again. Your transparency, I am so happy to hear that someone like you was in that role. And and kudos to the mayor for, for being so supportive of these initiatives and efforts.
I have to admit, like I said, you know, thank you for your thoughts. I was feeling a little emotional. So I'm usually more wordy, but there was as much as I could get out at that moment. And, and I what I can say is that I'm so glad I'm so thankful for the presenters and what you give our community. There are often 30 or 40 people here that are on who watched the the zoom in, but there's so many people who watch the Facebook and so it's such a gift to everybody but I what made me a little emotional in that moment was sort of the the moment the realization that that our community has called for something and that our our township has responded with the mayor and every single council person, the man unless there's Some they are, you know, on vacation but even if they're on vacation, they're often watch it watching but they're, you know, they're every member of the Council department heads. They've been standing strong in this moment, not for any individual but for the community and, and to hear him articulate part of that journey, the kind of where you were, where you want these things to me to be happening into to be the tentacles to be having impact to head to here and I know I've known him for a while to know that that we're standing with community and moving forward. It's a very, very, it felt very emotional. So I I'm sorry, I could only get those couple of words.
But Joseph was able to talk enough for me to find that the
the other words I wanted to say which is thank you so much for Kim for your comment, but thank you, everybody who's who's here and supporting what we are trying to do. We're not just for Bloomfield, because they many people will watch this Are there beyond the borders of Bloomfield? Thank you for what we're trying to put you all or trend what you do to support community in general.
Yeah, and I, I'm gonna, I'm going to tie it up because we're just about out of time. But I also want to express, you know, this similar sentiments everyone else I really, I really appreciate that everyone has taken the time and given some thought to having these conversations, which really are, are crucial conversations. We call them community conversations that I want to go back to them being Crucial Conversations. And I also want to point out that, that this is hard work and it's work that is, it's never finished, right? But there's always somewhere that we can start. So I'm always great. I am incredibly grateful to be part of a community that is open to having these conversations and to be part of, you know, a group of elected officials who stand together, united to to continue These conversations and to work with township employees who are so committed also an embracing that approach as well. So, you know, I think the more conversations that we continue to have, the more the more we build toward a more equitable and just society. And that really is our goal. So I do want to thank specifically Wendy Deseret, and Joseph for joining us tonight. You know, you were wonderful and and, and we hope to have you back again and again, I think. So thank you. Thank you for that. And thank you to everyone else who came and especially those two who spoke up tonight because I know that these conversations are also they're crucial, but they're uncomfortable. So thank you for having that bravery as well. So with that, we will say good night, and we will see we will have more of these so we will see you again soon.
Thank you for having us. Good night, everyone. One
good night. Thank you for having this as well.
Yes, thank you. Good night, everybody.