Many of us in the branch are asking the question “What Can WE Do?” about the challenges of social and racial inequity and justice. The first thing that came to mind was to educate ourselves on what is going on around us.
What is implicit bias and how does it influence our perspective on life? That is what a group of us gathered online to discuss in September. We used the AAUIW webinar “Is Your Perspective Inclusive?” as the basis for our discussion. That webinar drew on the experiences of Dr. Lisette Garcia as Executive Vice President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility and Pamela Fuller who is Global Client Partner and Thought Leader at Franklin Covey as Hispanic and Black women. Our discussion group was small enough that we were able to share experiences from our upbringing that we felt were influences in creating our implicit biases. We have tried to adjust our perspectives to be more inclusive as we’ve progressed through our lives.
In August twelve members met via Zoom for a lively discussion of Voting Rights/Voter Suppression. A variety of voter suppression tactics were discussed. The following is a partial list:
- Voter ID laws passed by individual states including such things as requiring birth certificates, photo IDs, residency requirements.
- Early voting reduced or eliminated.
- Polling places made less accessible by moving them, reducing workers, voter intimidation, etc.
- Absentee ballots or mail-in ballots interfered with through reducing postal service, creating complicated requirements, eliminating drop boxes, and changing return deadlines.
- Purging voters’ names from lists for a variety of reasons (18 million in 3 years).
- Gerrymandering to change representational balances.
In July, 17 members joined in a discussion of the documentary 13th – with themes of mass criminalization, incarceration and the sprawling prison industry and how the private sector and the federal government contributed to this injustice to the black male population.
We began in June with 22 participants in a discussion on Zoom about the movie, Just Mercy, which tells the story of a black man wrongly accused of murder and the struggles to get the sentence reversed. The discussion was wide-ranging with many themes to investigate: systemic racism, oppression, advocacy.