When I agreed to speak at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Race and Politics in Higher Education Symposium
, no one could have predicted that I would be presenting under the pall of another #BlackLivesMatter tragedy.
Last Friday, an unarmed Black teen was shot and killed by a White police officer in Madison. The incident has sparked protest and has fueled the national debate about race and policing. While Madison is self-described as a progressive and liberal bastion in the Mid-West, it is also a place where according to the Guardian
80% of the youths in juvenile detention were Black, yet they only represented 9% of the county's population.
As we wait for the facts to roll in about this shooting, I would be remiss if I didn't address the question that haunts many of us: would this have happened to a White teen in a tony suburb?
What stimuli make us feel different when we are confronted by a person of another race, especially in an unfamiliar neighborhood? Will the bias revealed in the weapons identification task
research will have any impact on how we understand this shooting in Madison?
I look forward to exploring these questions during my talk and showing the parallels to the decisions leaders make in our workplaces.
If you think there is anything else I should address during my speech, I would love to hear your thoughts.