Lafayette’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEI) and Office of Intercultural Development (OID) are coming together to create programming that will enable the Lafayette community to share information, reflect on feelings, and document what is happening in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, incidents of police brutality against Black people, and the public outcry for justice.

Town hall meeting

A virtual town hall meeting, “A Community Conversation About Racial Injustice,” is taking place Thursday, June 11, at noon. The event will provide an opportunity for members of the campus community to share their narratives and will be moderated by Rob Young ’14, director of intercultural development, with Karina Fuentes, assistant director of intercultural development, managing the speakers. 

Members of the campus community should register to attend.

In the near future, there also will be the announcement of a panel of faculty, alumni, and staff that will discuss anti-racism.

Contribute to digital collection

DEI and OID are creating “Expressions of Solidarity Against Racial Injustice: A Digital Collection,” where members of the Lafayette community can share creative writing, photos, video, audio materials, oral histories, personal essays, visual arts, and published works that are emerging from the multifaceted BLM movement and calls for an anti-racist society.

The collection will provide a space to share, narrate, and reflect on the deaths of George Floyd and numerous other members of the Black community, and the protests and events that followed. A link to the collection and request for submissions will be shared soon. 

“Since BLM began in 2016, the interest in community-based participatory collections has grown—a growth that reflects a recognition that people should be empowered to document and share not only what is happening around them, but how it makes them feel and why change is imperative,” note DEI and OID. “When these records are collected and more voices are heard, we can build a more accurate history of these experiences and foster much-needed action for change.”

Categorized in: Diversity, Featured News, Intercultural Development, News and Features

3 Comments

  1. Blake McMorris says:

    One of the challenges of discussing Diversity & Inclusion with groups is you must guide them to understand implicit and explicit bias, while not condemning them or making bias a matter of “good or bad”. I use the Ladder of Inference to help them understand how personal biases can develop and quickly move in the wrong direction. More often than not, I use my own life experiences to illustrate how these personal biases can be based on facts, but not necessarily truth.

    I am a 64 year old Black man, married 44 years. I’m the father of 2 and grandfather of 5. I am college educated. I worked in the insurance industry for 35 years, with 25 of those years in various positions of leadership. I understand the challenges of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

    My family was poor [as I like to say “gubment cheese poor”]. Jim Crow was still prevalent and I often wondered why my grandfather changed his behavior when he encountered white people. At an early age I knew I was “different”.

    I was first arrested in 1962, just before my 10th birthday. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but was afraid to question the police officer. As I sat handcuffed in the back seat of the squad car, I saw my mother approaching. She explained to the officer I was just a child and demanded that he release me. I’ve always been unusally tall [currently 6’9″] and I remember the cop saying “that nigger is NOT 9 years old”. My Mom towered over the officer and again demanded that he release me. At this point he put his hand on this gun, to which my Mom said “If you’re going to use that gun, you’d better kill me”. He ultimately relented and released me.

    Between that first experience and my final experience with the police [in 1968] I was arrested 7 times. I had and have never committed a crime or broken the law. At age 16, I had been called “nigger” too many times to count. Since most police at that time were white, I developed an intense hatred of white people and by all accounts was becoming an “angry Black man”.

    During this time, I started getting attention as a basketball player. I also qualified as a Merit scholar. Curiously, some white people actually seemed to like me – at least they treated me with respect. Scholarship offers started coming and realized I might have a chance for a life my parents could never dream of. Although my guidance counselor strongly suggested “my people” could not succeed in a 4 year setting, my parents encouraged me to seek a school that would provide a quality education. I matriculated at Lafayette College, a private school light years away from the life I knew. I played basketball, but not because I had to. I graduated in 4 years. The experience caused me to reexamine my previous assumptions.

    My ‘ladder of inference” was based on facts – segregation, poverty, police abuse. Those factual experiences shaped my sense of reality, but my assumptions [ biases] weren’t always based on truth. While I certainly encountered prejudice at Lafayette College and throughout my professional life, I also encountered white people that not only liked respected me, but encouraged me to succeed. I was forced to revise my assumptions. While this did not negate my painful childhood memories, I learned not to paint people [cops, whites, etc] with a “broad brush”. As ironic as it sounds, I learned to judge people by the content of their [thank you MLK]and it has made me a btter person. This has become part of my message as a Diversity & Inclusion practitioner – that we must learn to fear the act, NOT THE PERSON.. Clearly, bias is as fundmental to human existence as breathing, but using my story has allowed to help others acknowledge and mange their personal biases and avoid climbing that ladder using wrong assumptions.

  2. Bruce Carpenter, Class of 1969 says:

    I note and applaud the efforts to address this important topic. However, I also call to your attention that while you have included all of the components of the Lafayette College family you have not included the voice, at conspicuously of the community at large of which the college is a member. Lafayette has always maintained a close and harmonious relationship with the local community and I feel their voice should be represented and heard as an important part of this conversation. I urge you to give consideration how to best address this to provide for their inclusion.

  3. Robert Somers ‘62 says:

    I certainly abhor the death of Mr Floyd and hope his killer will face justice in our system. At no time in your lengthy essay address the loss of the rights, including the lives of police at the hands of rioters, the properties of small business owners by hundreds individuals all over the country. Your response is similar to the views you voiced to me nearly 4 years ago to the faculty letter in The Lafayette.

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