The Best WritersVoices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 1Voices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity Program Transcript KATHY PURNELL: Welcome to the Voices of Diversity. We’ve built a series of shortconversations into the course to model and encourage meaningful conversationsaround what some might consider difficult or sensitive topics. I’m Dr. Kathy GoodridgePurnell, the program coordinator for inclusive teaching and learning, and the diversitysubject matter expert and social work educator who helped to develop this new diversitycourse for the Barbara Solomon School of Social Work here at Walden University.Today we’re here with social work faculty to discuss a few questions, which is part ofour Voices of Diversity series.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: Hi. I’m Dr. Emmett Roberts. I am a core faculty member atthe Barbara Solomon School of Social Work, and I’ve been a Walden faculty membersince 2013.LEIGH HICKS: Hello. I’m Dr. Leigh Hicks. I am a core faculty also at the BarbaraSolomon School of Social Work, and I’ve been here since 2018.EARL BRADFORD SMITH: Hello, everyone. Dr. Earl Bradford Smith, contributingfaculty. And I’ve been with Walden University since 2018.KATHY PURNELL: We’re here to talk about race and ethnicity. We know those twowords have created a firestorm for hundreds, if not thousands of years. So the firstquestion is, the discomfort around race and ethnicity can often be difficult for some todiscuss or even understand. Why is this? And why is this not as difficult for others?LEIGH HICKS: I believe that it brings conflict to some, but when you have a purpose, it’sone of those things where you understand that your purpose is bigger than thepersonalities that surround you. And so that makes it more effective to talk about thoseissues.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: I think it’s an issue of power. And so those who have powerwant to control the narrative and those who don’t have power want to talk about theimpact of those who have power. And so it can be a very contentious conversation topicbecause some people say, well you’re saying that I have power that I really don’t have,and other people are not agreeing with that.Voices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 2EARL BRADFORD SMITH: I believe sometimes people are apathetic towards talkingabout the issues because they are afraid of or insensitive to other people. So thatinsensitivity creates that unknown factor of people not becoming aware and not beingable to reach out to another person in a positive way.KATHY PURNELL: Let me follow up with this piece, this first question, right? We’re all inthe room, we can see what we look like, we all have different stories and experiences,OK? You can hear I have an accent, but I’m Caribbean, British Caribbean, married to anAfrican American. But what is a defining moment or a personal story that you’d like toshare about race or ethnicity?EARL BRADFORD SMITH: My defining moment was coming through high school longago, which were predominantly white Catholic schools, and being the one and only inthe schools taught by brothers and sisters, and then going on to a historically Blackuniversity in Nashville, Tennessee. So that was quite a culture shock. And thenproceeding on to be a member of the United States Marine Corps in which the colorwas green, and everyone reached out and wanted to be a part of the team.LEIGH HICKS: I think my dynamic moment is I was a deputy sheriff and predominantlyin South Carolina in a Southern state. So as a Black female, I went through differentchallenges, and even with the racial inequality that we saw go on with police officersand young Black men, I experienced a lot of negativity towards that because I was aBlack female in that field.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: And I think for me, personally it happened for me when I wasthree. My mom for my whole adult life has been a housekeeper. And so she worked forwhite families that had money. And I started out at three years old that I was the livedoll, and that’s kind of the way I look at it as I grew older, of a five-year-old white female.I was her playmate. That was what I was. And I was very aware of being different.KATHY PURNELL: I remember being called out with my name by a teacher in 1975.She called me the equivalent of the N-word. And that defined the whole my life’s work.As I said, I never want to be like her, but I never questioned who I was as a result of thatmoment. I somehow learned as a young kid to be empowered and educate and helpother people.Voices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 3There are deep historical and current contexts associated with race, the topic of raceand ethnicity, especially in America. How does this resonate with you as a social workprofessional and why?LEIGH HICKS: Well, I think it’s important to address cultural diversity. As a socialworker, being able to understand cultural diversity, cultural competence, culturalawareness is all important. Also, I think that being able to be up front about it isimportant, because it is happening. And then, again, as I stated earlier, understandingthat there are different personalities that surround us but being able to understand whatthe purpose is.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: For me, I think I as Dr. Hicks has talked about, looking at itprofessionally, being very aware that I’m a Black man in America, and that meanssomething to some people. And it’s not very positive. And so I always like to bring it tothe classroom to say, with what I have, the resources that I have, if it’s a challenge forme, I can only imagine what it would be for people who don’t have the resources that Ihave.EARL BRADFORD SMITH: My response to that question through my experience havebeen being a role model at all levels, whether it be K-12 or in higher education or socialwork practice and mental health, children and youth services or medical and/or schoolthat I’ve done. So I think that has been a really important aspect.And secondly, being able to provide an historical context in which the undergraduateand/or graduate students, too, so they have a better understanding of the injusticeshistorically that various people have gone through or experienced.KATHY PURNELL: I think just touched on a very important piece in understandinghistory. And we know that there are some concerns around the perception of whathistory is and how it should be taught around race and/or ethnicity i.e., Critical RaceTheory and that many people up in arms and we know that there’s something specialabout storytelling and passing on information to empower, to teach, to bring harmony aswell. But sometimes you’ve got to do the hard work and look at the historical pieceswhile we’re working to bring people together.So what are some helpful strategies to encourage culturally responsive practice or eventhink about it in terms of education? We’re social work educators. Some of you areVoices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 4practitioners. How do you integrate or at least identify helpful strategies to encourageculturally responsive practice?I think about the first step and the GIM model, engagement. Engagement is veryimportant. Being able to engage with whoever you’re around. Also, building rapport isimportant. Being able to establish those relationships are very important. And onceyou’re able to establish relationships, and I believe diversity can be on a we canunderstand diversity, and we’ll be able to understand the sensitivity around it andeverything will work out for the best.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: Well, Dr. Leigh, you’re a lot nicer than me because I’ll admitthat it may be some difficult conversations that we need to have.KATHY PURNELL: Yes, sir.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: as a practitioner, I as a practitioner and also as aneducator, having those conversations with students about, it’s not your client’sresponsibility to teach you about their culture, it’s their responsibility to share with youabout who they are and how they are seen or impacted by the world. But it’s yourresponsibility as a practitioner that when you have those questions, that you use theresources that you have to go out and explore new things. That you’re the person whotakes the initiative and not expect to sit in your office or on the phone or on camera andeverybody brings what they need or they think they need to you. That you have someresponsibility in that encounter.LEIGH HICKS: And Dr. Emmett, you’re right. I think for me, it’s because I’m able to lookat it from different lenses as a law enforcement, as a social worker, and just as a humanin general. So I think that’s why, but I do agree with you. Definitely they need to takethat opportunity to do it. But I have that perspective from different lenses.EARL BRADFORD SMITH: I can also build on what my colleagues are saying as far asvarying perspective, which has been so important to me. But making learning creativelycontextual I think is important. Which connecting the teaching learning to the real worldin 2021 and what’s happening in our society, I think that’s so, so significant. And thoseconversations, and we can build on them in a positive way in the classroom.Another idea that I’ve tried is to readapt the classroom environment, and that meansintegrating assignments or experiential learning or quizzes or case studies aroundVoices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 5diversity, equity, and inclusion. And I think that expands or activates students’ priorknowledge and makes them more aware of their strengths and weaknesses.And then the last part is integrating partnerships or guest speakers. Having them comein, I think, from the community. Like Walden University is it’s a part of a largercommunity, and I know there’s many great professionals out there in the world that willjust be wonderful but are role models for our students.KATHY PURNELL: Yes. I love all of the ideas. The lenses, the various perspectives.We’re talking about how we see, how we look, how we do, how we apply, how weevaluate, how we assess. And the responsibility that each individual has to do the work.Because I know, during when the George Floyd murder happened, there was a call forwhat can we do as practitioners, what can we do with social workers as educators, asorganizations to address and create these spaces for these conversations?And we saw the doors open for chief inclusion officers. Consultants were in greatdemand. Some of our students were, well, what can we do? Even our leadership inacross the board, but what can we do and how can we do this better? As you thinkabout today’s topic and the conflict around it, and the fact that we all live as BlackAfrican-American, African-Caribbean individuals, and we know what that means and wehave experiences that we could talk about, what would you like the students to consideror even take away from this topic or this discussion?EARL BRADFORD SMITH: Knowledge of ways or strategies to increase their self-awareness. And then secondly, to be able, like my colleague mentioned earlier, toexpand their knowledge in invariant various resources. And I think that’s important. Andthe third aspect, which is to keep growing and developing your skill set, your awarenessskills, and practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion. And to face your fears, andnot be afraid to make the mistakes and to say that I am uncomfortable with thisparticular people.KATHY PURNELL: That takes courage. That last piece takes courage.LEIGH HICKS: And I’ll say, I agree with my colleague. Everything that he said, I believe,is accurate, and I believe in order to find that, possibly doing a SWOT analysis whereyou can understand your strengths, your weaknesses, the opportunities that are outthere, and any threat. So any threats that may be out there that you are having a hardVoices of Diversity: Race and Ethnicity© 2021 Walden University, LLC 6time dealing with a certain population or if that’s a weakness for you, being able to do aSWOT analysis and determine that.KATHY PURNELL: I like that. That’s the sheriff coming out right there.EMMETT ROBERTS, JR: I like that, and I think for me, one of the things that I push at ishelping everybody to understand that we’re all different. And that as we explore that andas we understand how different we are, then we understand how much alike we reallyare. And that self-exploration. That as you figure out who you are and where you’regoing, that you understand you’re not going by yourself, and that there are others andon the same journey that you’re on. And you can be of help or of hinder. But in the longrun, it’s best for us it’s best for us to help each other. Because we’re all on the journeytogether.KATHY PURNELL: I’m a storyteller. And I think that and that’s something that being aCaribbean, you hear stories. You hear stories around the table in the morning, stories atlunchtime, stories when you’re at the markets. You bump into people and there’s alwaysa story. And I think just thinking about what you said, Emmett, if people would take thetime to just ask someone about their experience, their story, how they see, what lensare they using to look at these issues, and listen in not a defensive manner, but in amanner that will open the floor and the door for true connection.So I would like to see students think about creating space so that those stories canhappen, but they also listen. And as Dr. Smith said, face the fears. And to do thatanalysis. What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Why am I responding to this? Knowour own stories. Know our own biases. Know just know ourselves so that we can dothe work and continue on this journey as you mentioned.I thank you for taking the time and providing the nuggets today so that we can continuewith these conversations beyond the Voices of Diversity. Thank you.