Q & A: Diversity in America

Q&A Session for Challenging Conversations Series: "Diversity in America"

All questions were submitted to the panelists. We have not yet received responses from alumna Tiffany Felix. For full transparency, we are including all questions, whether or not they have been answered.

1:45 PM Dareyl Coleman
Q: How do we help staff/students to identify and resolve conscious and unconscious biases?
Osajima: I’ll speak to the matter of unconscious bias or implicit bias? There is a lot of good information and research on implicit bias that can certainly help students and staff to better understand what it is and how it works. Project Implicit, is a website that has Implicit Attitude Tests https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/. The book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People (2016) by Mahzarin Banaji is an excellent resource. I have used these resources to develop implicit bias trainings for faculty and administrators.

1:43 PM Pamela Allen
Q: We need to see color to appreciate it!
A: Answered In Program

1:46 PM Susan Skoglund
Q: How do we replace systems with systems that ensure equality and inclusion?
A: Answered in Program

1:47 PM Alesha Knox
Q: Tiffany... Thank you for your words, We are on the same page, I am also a Black woman and you need to see me.
A: Answered in Program

1:47 PM Elissa Yan
Q: If you had the capacity and emotional availability to have an open space and forum again: what do you say to the students whose faces have been used and tokenized on our website? What do you do to protect incoming students from having to be put in that position? What do you say to be brave to the administration, board of trustees, and the president's cabinet? What are the words and actions we're doing to protect our Black Student that RACISM IS REAL??
A: Answered in Program

1:47 PM Redlands Alumni for BLM is Here
Q: Ms. Tiffany Felix made an apt comment—“With inclusion comes empowerment.” Would anyone at the University of Redlands like to comment about what commitments to structural empowerment they have offered to its community?

1:47 PM Kieshauna Choice
Q: Thank you Tiffany for your explanation of identifying moreso with a "black woman" than African American. I always say "black woman." Do you mind expanding on this some more? 

1:47 PM Redlands Alumni for BLM is Here
Q: Mrs. Joy Clark, as someone who works for the University, and as someone who has spoken in this dialogue about the need for change in policy, practice, training, etc. of the U of R staff, what are your thoughts regarding the demand for change on a systemic level from Project Real, from Alpha Chi Delta, and now from Redlands Alumni for BLM, that has been consistently undermined and ignored by Kuncl and the board?

Clark: As a black woman and a U of R staff member, I stand by the need for change in policy, practice, training, etc. at the university level, locally, statewide, and nationally. Change needs to happen. In terms of my thoughts regarding the demand for change on a systemic level from Project Real, Alpha Chi Delta, I cannot speak to those demands, because I have not seen them, nor have I been at the university long enough to know them. I would say share that information so that everyone has seen it, and then a strategy can be implemented to cause change to happen based on subsequent meetings with leadership based on each organizations demands. As far as Redlands Alumni for BLM, I have seen the demands, and I believe that because you have made them public, there is an outcry for change, and you as a group have collectively started a movement within the university and the community that will not allow for the demands to be ignored.

1:47 PM Craig Simmons
Q: What can white gay allies do to take steps to assist with equality and inclusion of our friends and colleagues of color? Where can linkages occur?

Munoz: I think the first step is a willingness to ask what support is needed, listen to the answer, and act accordingly. In our enthusiasm it’s easy to want to step straight into action that may or may not help. First ask, what help is needed?
Osajima: It is always good for allies to learn as much as possible about the experiences of people in an oppressed group. Learning about how racism operates, and the historical experiences of group members can serve as a foundation from which to start.

1:49 PM Susan Hammond
Q: Thank you All! This has been very helpful and enlightening. Here is my question: Can we address one of the Denials that, at least in this culture we are in. That is...the denial of violence. This culture, this system that rewards some of us, gives us enjoyment and security, was created through violence and maintained by violence. How do we dismantle illusion of innocence?

Clark: The first step is acknowledgement. Those that committed the acts of violence have never acknowledged their wrongs, they have always justified the acts of violence committed against black men and women. This goes back to the kidnapping of slaves, the brutality and mutilation committed against slaves, to the Tuskegee experiment, and now we have people who want to administer a “vaccine” to the black community first to see the effects of the vaccine. This is wrong! We dismantle the illusion of innocence by saying unilaterally that the violence against black men and women is wrong. Offenders should be prosecuted for the acts of violence that are brought against our community. In many of the cases of violence, mutilation, and murder that have occurred against our black men and women, the assailant has never been charged, prosecuted, or sentenced. It has always been, “Well, they must have done something to deserve what they got.” It is inhumane, and this must change.

Munoz: I think the most recent deaths of Black men and women at the hands of the police has really brought violence to the forefront. I agree that much of the inequities experienced by BIPOC are based in both physically and psychological violence and denial. The challenge is that people in power reject or ignore the idea that their privilege is built on this foundation of physical and psychological subjugation. Unfortunately, I do not have a good suggestion for helping these people to hear this message in way that lead to a recognition of the need to change. I think social media, through posts and videos, has made it easier to shout the truth. Nothing has made the BLM movement so real to me as contrasting the photos of how the police respectfully treated white supremacists carrying guns while meeting peaceful protesters with the anticipation of violence. We must keep speaking the truth and seek to upend the power structures through our voice and our vote.

Osajima: How to deal with denial is a critical question as it functions as an obstacle to dialogue and understanding. There is more than enough information out there to prove the existence of racism and the inequities that result, but if people’s response is denial, or disinterest, that information will have no effect. Work on white fragility by Robin DiAngelo speaks to how those in oppressor positions are reluctant to take in information that threatens their position.

1:50 PM Jacqueline Bell 
Q: How would you suggest someone who is a Jr. Member of Corporate America push the agenda of inclusion vs diversity within their current organizations with respect to upper management and Sr. Leaders?

1:50 PM Kimberly Biddle
Q: How do we allow for diversity in racial groups and cultural groups in this conversation? Not everyone in the same racial or cultural group is the same. We are all individuals and need to be seen for our uniqueness.

Munoz: I absolutely agree. We are each the product of the influence of multiple cultural communities (ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, ability, to name just a few). I think we need to keep acknowledging and understanding intersectionality. I think there is less emphasis on the differences within groups, because inequity and marginalization stem from individuals in power making judgments based on their broad perceptions of our group membership.

1:50 PM Jessica Mayuga
Q: What do we then do about the conversations we BEEN having? I think students and alum are tired of having the same conversations. When will action will be taken? 

Clark: I think we as a people are tired of having the same conversations and experiences. It is definitely time for change. It is unfortunate that the conversations have happened, but no action has been taken. I would say to continue to have the conversations and continue to make your requests and demands known. Continue to press the issues. Consistency is key. The momentum is now there, and now is the time for changes to be made so that generations after you won’t deal with the same issues.

Osajima: It is definitely frustrating when the same conversations seems to happen, without much evident progress. Turning frustrations into action can be advanced with some persistent follow-up. If there are specific demands people would like to institute or if the University makes claims about making change, then a continual monitoring of progress and requests for information on progress, can help to remind those who promised to do something, keep on track.

1:50 PM Bill Kennedy
Q: So long as inclusion is a moral or compliance issue, we will have bottom line outcomes. We need to understand that diverse decision making makes us smarter and more resilient. It is not feel good, It is mathematics. 

1:52 PM Alexandra Rodriguez
Q: In a Johnston alumni group Tim Sieber posted that black trans and queer voices were intentionally centered in the community to help bring a historically marginalized voice up to the forefront. The kickback was that this could be illegal because you are favoring one group over the other (black/trans/queer over the normal student). What is the best way to approach this kickback as we try to center historically marginalized voices.

Munoz: First let me caution you about the use of “normal” in this context. It implies a value judgment (normal vs. abnormal) which I suspect you did not intend. In field, I would probably use “mainstream”. What you are taking about ties back to concepts of affirmative action. At the moment, thanks to the BLM protests, the pendulum is swinging back in favor of affirmative action. I would probably put this situation in the category of “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Let’s help those we can while we can and worry about those who might raise the issue of “fairness” later. I really can’t speak to the legality of it.

1:53 PM Redlands Alumni for BLM is Here
Q: To everyone on the panel, how do you all play a role in the demands made by students and alumni that have strong focal points around the education and comprehensive training of admin and professors in regards to race, inclusion, and diversity? We have been asking for specific things for years and it has time and time again been ignored. The students of this University have quite literally written out the solutions to so many of the issues that you have all thought about just now. How as faculty, as alumni, as professors, do you see yourself playing a role in supporting the needs that your students and alumni have been asking for? For some of the panelists who are not familiar, please take a look at the actions we've taken to try and hold our institution accountable https://www.redlandsalumniforblm.com/petition

Munoz: Everything you list above is extremely concerning. I appreciate that the petition demands are specific and address documented inequities. How you get power to listen? That I’m not sure about. One idea is to reach out to the University Council and Diversity and Inclusion. Together you can select specific spokespeople who can who’s role is to keep the message in front of the UR decision makers.

Osajima: I think there is a level of mis-communication or no communication that contributes to the frustrations. As someone who has been on the University Council on Inclusiveness and Community, I can see where demands have been ignored and or put off so not much progress is made. I’ve also seen where people have been working diligently to address issues, but that work may be hidden from public view. I’ve also seen some progress in areas that people are unaware of. Some regularly structured form of maintaining communication between alumni groups and University people may help to move matters forward.

1:55 PM Kimberly Biddle
Q: What about equity? We are talking about equality and inclusion. What about equity?

Clark: I would need further clarification on equity. Are we talking about fairness and justice, or are we speaking of stakes? For me, I want equality. I want for the same opportunities afforded to my white counterparts afforded to me. I want to make the same pay and not be discounted because of my skin color. Equity is a part of that, because it makes me a stakeholder. It gives me value.

1:57 PM Kimiya Maghzi
Q: How do we as educators practice self-reflexivity in our own being and teaching and examine our own privilege and how this effects our students? Also, how do we help our students reflect on their own privilege? Why is this important to do?

Osajima: I think some self-reflexivity can be very useful for educators. The challenge is how that can be done in an effective and on-going manner so that the lessons learned from such work can lead to changes in how people think and act. A foundation for such work is creating a safe environment where people can share their views and experiences without judgment. A structure like the Intergroup Dialogues could help this. Training workshops that have been offered previously, like the EUREKA program can be another avenue

1:57 PM Elissa Yan
Q: Explain the social responsibility you have to protect our students? 

Clark: The social responsibility that I have to protect our students is to provide them a safe place, and work to make the environment in which they learn a place where they are seen and heard, and where they matter. For me, that starts with listening, and finding out ways to take it to lead and to bring it to campus leadership so that their voices are heard. I know that we may not win every fight, but I also know that we have to start somewhere.

Munoz: I feel I have a strong social responsibility to protect and help students and I do so when and I where I can. My responsibilities have included advocating for students who are being marginalized by instructors, making sure that they understand the hidden curriculum of the University, and setting high expectations while also giving them the encouragement, knowledge, and skills needed to be successful.

Osajima: I agree with Maria Munoz, as these are ways I work to support students. I also think it’s important to help students develop an understanding of race and racism that will help them to analyze what is going on around them, and to put their experiences in larger structural and historical contexts.

1:57 PM Joel Alvarez
Q: With Inclusion, Economics/Socioeconomic status plays a large role in inclusivity and i don’t see many advocating for advancement on an economic level for us Blacks and minorities. How do we make sure we don’t get lost in translation with only talking about equality and treatment but also economic prosperity for us?

Clark: The discussion of economics is being discussed in various groups that are working on effecting change within the university. We recognize that we must aid and assist black and minority students in the area of economics. Please know that there are people who are advocating for you.

Munoz: I think that if we can dismantle a system based on systemic inequities, the socioeconomic status of BIPOC would improve as a result.

Osajima: What you speak to is very important to keep in mind. The tie between race and class is deep and strong. For me prosperity of individuals is one part of the goal, but dealing with the tremendous economic inequities between whites and people of color overall would be a broader goal.

1:58 PM Mike Warren
Q: The Hispanic ethic group will be in the majority in the next 50 years. How will that impact the US?
Munoz: I think it could have a tremendous impact but we are still excluded from many positions of power and decision making.

Osajima: we are seeing some of the impact. Unfortunately, one of the effects is that fears of demographic change are fueling some of the fears we see in white communities. So we’ll continue to see backlash. If that political potential of the shift can be mobilized to support candidates and issues that could advance racially just policies, then significant change can take place.

1:59 PM Kimiya Maghzi
Q: I feel like this also begins with the hearts of humankind. We need to love one another!! For equality, equity, inclusion to occur we need to teach our children to love each other!

Clark: Kimiya, I totally agree. I was taught to love all people. My family is a melting pot literally, so I was never taught hate. Hate I sincerely believe is something that is taught, and until the hate and atrocities of racism are eradicated, this will continue. While you and I believe this, not everyone else does. The teaching of love is something that is shown in ones actions and life. Our children look to us as the example of how to treat others. If we model love, they will reciprocate. If we model hate, they will reciprocate that hate, and the cycle will continue. Even on campus, if more of our community would practice the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, there would be a shift. You wouldn’t treat yourself with hate, so why project that onto someone else?

Osajima: I agree as well. What I think about is what are the conditions that make it hard to realize this? In what ways does the historical and on-going structural racism impact on our views of ourselves and others in ways that make it hard to love others.

2:00 PM Anna Gaitan
Q: The university has to go beyond tokenism and hiring most POC as adjuncts only. We need to be hired as FT Tenure track faculty!
Anna, my college experience was amazing, because when I went to class, my professors were black.

2:01 PM Nicol Howard
Q: Thank you to the panelist today. We see you.

2:02 PM Kimiya Maghzi
Q: Thank you all! I so appreciate to hear the voices of black women who offer so much insight

2:04 PM Cindy Sanger
Q: How do you feel about the ‘taking a knee’ when police and others are joining in? Thank you.

Munoz: I think it’s a good first step. I don’t know the motivation of the police when they take a knee (is it a photo op or sincere) so I’m going to take it at face value and encourage the action.

2:07 PM Suzan Thompson
Q: Talking must continue, but actions must follow or we will continue with little or no change. I have witnessed three protest here in Los Angeles and only minor improvements. Talking with serious changes for the better must happen and we must continue to.