Tulsa Initiative Aims To Confront Biases In Wake Of Violence

Thursday, August 17th 2017, 10:15 pm
By: Justin Shrair

In the wake of recent violence as seen in places like Charlottesville, a program was hosted tonight in Tulsa aimed at confronting bias.

The goal is to openly talk about it in an effort to change peoples' perspectives. 

Tonight was all about identifying, owning and confronting everyone's own biases, organizers said.

Tonight was all about having a conversation and at times an uncomfortable one with the community.

It was an interactive session with the goal to put it bias out on the table.

"We have a conversation at home with our friends, we have a conversation with our families, we say things that we don't feel comfortable saying to anybody else," said Risha Grant, co-organizer of "That's BS! A Conversation for All of US."

Grant is also one of the founders of “Safer Together,” an outreach program "designed to improve police relations with the diverse communities they serve.”

Grant saw a diverse group of people take part and openly discuss their own biases.

"Uncheck bias, you know it looks like all the -isms and the -phobias, the racism the sexism, the homophobia, the xenophobia," Grant said.

Members of the community were given paddles to hold up as a variety of topics were shared.

If people held the blue side up, it meant they had no bias, and if people held the orange side up it meant that was their bias. 

"When you allow that to go unchecked, it looks like Charlottesville, Virginia. It may look like police killings, it may look like good Friday shootings that we had here, or our OKQ center being shot up by people who are homophobic," Grant said.

"We have to understand each other because if we don't, understand our own individual stories, and if we don't understand who we each are, then how can we even begin a conversation?" said Elizabeth Hall, who attended the gathering.

Grant said she hopes people take away that everyone has more similarities than differences. 

"If we can begin to change perspective little by little, eventually we can get to changing minds," Grant said.

The organizers say they are in the process of planning more programs for the community.