On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, HCAD proudly hosted its first virtual town hall session on Race Relations titled, “Deciphering the Complex Web of Racism in the USA”.
Our HCAD member, Kirsten Poston, served as the outstanding moderator along with four phenomenal panelists, Antines “NuNu” Davis, Aubrey Moorman (former HC citizen and a graduate of Reservoir High School), La Toya Plummer and Darrin Smith.
Throughout the program, the audience was asked to participate polling using their mobile phones for data collection and display to give the panelists an idea of who was watching the session.
- 64% of the audience were white
- 27% Black participants
- 32% from Howard County
- 11% from Prince Georges
- 8% from Anne Arundel, Frederick and Baltimore each
- 24% from outside of Maryland
Ms. Poston asked each panelist four questions and the panelists were open and honest with their raw experiences on racism:
- What is the appropriate sign for ‘Black Lives Matter’?
- Can you share your personal experiences with the audience relating to racism?
- What are some solutions you think will be beneficial to the community in dismantling racism?
- What are some tips you can give non-proc about unpacking and becoming a better ally?
As white and Deaf, we experience being in a social minority but imagine what it is like for Black, Deaf, woman and/or the LBGTQ? They have the double, triple or quadruple the oppression.
The panelists all provided the audience with some sound advice to all white sisters and brothers:
- Really listen to your black sisters and brothers. Do not jump in to explain, defend, overreact or reinterpret. Look at the racial bias in yourself. Listen, listen, listen with an open mind and open heart, but listen. Open your eyes.
- Ask questions. Explore the other person’s thoughts and feelings more deeply.
- Pay attention to why people all over the world are also protesting in support of black people in America. Speak up to other white people. Stay the course and continue to figure out other ways to dismantle systemic racism. Be strategic and sincere about getting to genuinely know people who don’t look like you. Your life will be richer for it.
- Don’t minimize it or act like it’s an issue. Black deaf people are tired of it. Do not compare them with yourself as a white deaf person.
The panelists were asked what we can do to dismantle racism, below are their answers:
- Have dialogue and lots of it. Talk more about it, really listen, understand and give your Black friends, colleagues and acquaintances a chance to have the discussion and tell us what they’re feeling, and identify what the problem is, because without the dialogue, nothing will be able to move forward. There will be no progress. We won’t be able to take the right steps to dismantle racism. For white folks, allow them to talk about race and racism and not merely the race of others, but their personal radicalized experience. All leadership, and white leadership, in particular, needs to tolerate their discomfort and push forward.
- Re-evaluate internal policies, do a thorough evaluation and force them to look at these policies and understand how it affects individuals.
- As a firm, educational institution committed to racial equality, we must also consider where racial disparity exists in our own organizations and not tolerate our shortcomings. Get rid of racist people who already have that mindset that they are racist. Ensure that everyone gets the fair chance/opportunity as other white peers.
- And lastly, but not least, have respect. It’s not your responsibility to judge. Acceptance is the key. You may never understand, but it is imperative that you respect and accept. Be accountable. Deal with the discomfort.
- Be an informed voter. We are the voters to determine who should make these policies, making the laws we need to be informed of who we’re voting in the office.
- Be knowledgeable about the issues and positions of candidates when voting. It also means you are able to make decisions without influence from outside factors intended to persuade those who may not fully understand a candidate’s platform or ideas.
- Do your civic duty and vote in November!
- White people can not just dismantle racism without black people’s input and engagement. It’s the same idea as you don’t want hearing people to make decisions for you as a deaf person, so make sure that you include Black people when you make decisions pertaining to Black people. You must have the mindset that you can not do it without Black people. You can’t do it without the right people.
- White parents talk about birds and the bees to their children, but in African-American households, “the Talk” is far more serious. It’s about getting young Black men and women home safely. Black parents have to discuss the white America and how to be safe.
- We are all interconnected as Deaf people and because we both have the same color in our hearts. When we suffer injustice, it diminishes all of us.
According to data collection, 89% support that HCAD help dismantling racism by:
- Partner with Baltimore Black Deaf Advocates on webinar series.
- After COVID19 is resolved, have a “Meet & Greet Event” with all Deaf organizations of different races.
- Have an open-mind and open-heart discussion
Books recommended by panelists:
- “White Fragility ‘why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism'” by Robin Diangelo
- “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad
- Any books by James Baldwin are also recommended. Below are Oprah’s recommendations: https://www.oprahmag.com/…/a26012…/best-james-baldwin-books/