Friday, September 4, 2020

Another Conversation on Building A More Inclusive Community

Learn-Feel-Act_thumb1On August 12th of this year we recorded our second conversation on racial inclusivity. This time our discussion included Alexis & Brandon Bradley, Briawna & Ronell Hugh, and Chelsi & Ivan Hurtt, as well as Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson of Lehi and myself (Rod Mann). It was another great conversation and one that is worth watching.

Here is an email we received from Brigitte Madrian, a Highland resident and the dean BYU’s Marriott School of Business, who watched our conversation:

Thank you all so much for doing the community discussion on racial inclusivity tonight. There were so many wonderful things that you all said that impacted me.

  • I was touched by Chelsi’s story about her son having to explain his father’s race and what that symbolizes.
  • Brandon make me pause and think when he talked about my ability to avoid interacting with Black people in my job if it makes me uncomfortable, but his inability to avoid interacting with white people in his job or society in general.
  • When Ivan related the question from a friend along the lines of, “you’ve never been discriminated against, right,” I realized how much I’d like to believe that discrimination and prejudice don’t exist, yet ignoring the fact that it does exist only perpetuates the problem.  If we want to fix the problem, we need to acknowledge it.
  • I appreciated hearing about Alexis’ courage to go into her children’s school to teach the children, and discovering how important it was to teach the teachers as well. I need you to come to BYU Marriott and teach my teachers as well!!
  • Briawna reiterated the importance of listening to the perspective of others and the importance white people being willing to take some responsibility for racism.
  • And Ronell amplified that message by talking about being curious, that facts will not change people’s minds, but the willingness to be curious will.

There were many others great points that were made, but those are just a few that stood out for me.

Please know that I appreciate the time that you took out of your day to teach those of us in your community.

Thank you Dean Madrian for sharing your thoughts and insights and thanks to Alexis, Bradley, Briawna, Ronell, Chelsi, Ivan, and Mark who made this a wonderful discussion.

Racial and other biases exist in the world AND our community, much of it is unconscious. I found an article by Dr. Susan Madsen entitled All Unconscious Bias Training Is Not Equal that contained a number of excellent points such as the following:

"The curriculum should be uplifting, educational and developmental in nature, with an ever-present tone that change is possible — that each of us can shift our own stereotypes and biases. Avoid a compliance-based undercurrent that's focused on forbidding certain behaviors. This type of training, often seen with sexual harassment training, can create a strong backlash. In fact, don't include any shaming or content and activities that could spark defensiveness.

Personally, I don’t believe we can create systems that will eliminate the possibility of bias. Our unconscious biases will always be able to influence the output of any process. Thus, in order for positive change to occur we need to change our hearts first. We don’t change hearts by force we change them through education and being good examples. If we want these changes to be long lasting we need to help our children learn to be kind and selfless to all.

In his introduction to “The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World”, Jamil Zaki notes the following, “Empathy’s most important role is to inspire kindness. … Through practice we can grow our empathy and become kinder result.” Conversations like the following can help us develop empathy as we take the time learn about other perspectives and then exercise compassion. I hope you take the time to enjoy the following conversation.


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