(upbeat music) – Welcome everyone, we are delighted to be introduced to you via Zoom We can’t see all of your faces but we know that you’re out there We are here to sort of partner with the prospect for success panels and our panelists actually talking about issues of racism and justice And all of us today, each of us today are actually going to present to you our various fields and disciplines and how we each approach issues of racism, inequality, issues of justice And we are also going to dive in after that into just a friendly conversation, building off of each other’s work So we hope you’ll enjoy the journey with us and we certainly hope that you have lots of questions to ask us at the end of our presentation So the first person that we’re gonna just jump right in is Dr. Jordan Poler, and I’m gonna let you take it away, Dr. Poler – Thank you Julia. My name is Jordan Poler I’m a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and we’ve been asked to discuss with you how we know what we know and and how do we analyze data? How do we interpret facts? How do we create new understandings and new knowledge? As a scientist, as a chemistry professor, I use the scientific method and many of you have heard of this And I use this to understand the natural world I look around, I make observations, and I use a very specific process to try and interpret my observations But as I think about knowledge, I also think about the perspective from which I form my conclusions I want us to think more broadly, and to capture a far longer time horizon before we make our conclusions Firstly, we must recognize that we have not come to our positions that we conclude on independently There are many influences that guide us but where do these influencing attitudes come from? That’s, a very big important question, as from a scientist perspective, and from a human perspective, in fact, the influence attitudes that we use to make our own conclusions are not new For example, what I know as a scientist, is based on the discoveries of many others from many years ago, if I don’t recognize that fact, and I cannot properly interpret our natural world Moreover, we must acknowledge that our personal success is not due solely to our independent qualities So many of us benefit from institutional systems that have helped some at the expense of others There is enough data now to show that 30 years ago, as a white man myself, I had an advantage over others when I applied to graduate school There were very few women in my class and even fewer people of color There is enough data now to show to conclude that when I was hired at UNC Charlotte, the color of my skin, my gender, the sound of my name helped me to get my job Yes, things are getting better and we are all creating a better environment to foster diversity, equity and inclusion but we have a long way to go still We must all acknowledge that who we are now and what we have now came to the expense and the efforts of others University of North Carolina at Charlotte is located on the traditional territories of the Qatada, the Waxhaws, the Chera and the sugar is people’s The land that we now live, work and study on was forcibly taken from others long ago We must acknowledge that our country grew strong because was built by and harvested by people who were forcibly taken from their own country and enslaved in ours Many of us still benefit from these conquests, we must admit that as we move forward There is plenty of data to show that some groups of people have accumulated far more wealth than others White people have benefited from institutional systems like the GI Bill, and housing policies far more than people of color This wealth gap is foundational to the inequities of our society I wanna discuss an important way to build wealth As a scientist, engineer or health professional, you may be in the position to have a new idea or create new technology, you may be in a position to patent or copyright your idea or technology There’s enough data to show that this intellectual property is very valuable and leads to wealth Unfortunately, not all of us have benefited equitably from the patent process One of the most well known and prolific black inventors was George Washington Carver and he only had three patents I wanted to discuss a recent paper by Professor Lisa Cook at Cal Berkeley She collected data on patents applications

and patents granted as a function of time, from the late 1800s And she related these data to patent holders by race And so I’m gonna share my desktop right now, and just show you a PowerPoint And I want you to help me, because you guys are students interpret some of these data So just very briefly, let me just put this together here Elizabeth, can you guys see my presentation? – Looking good – Okay, great so what I want you guys to do is I want you to take a look at this graph And this is an asynchronous presentation so as students what I want you to do, I’m gonna stop for a second and I want you to pause the video and just take five minutes, look at the axes, look at the data and just absorb it Try to pay specific attention to as many details as you can So I’m gonna stop for one second, but I want you to pause your video and do that exercise Okay, welcome back So what we see here is some data that was collected, it was published in very difficult places to find this data in the US Patent archives This is all collected before there were computers, of course and Dr. Cook did an amazing job collecting, how many patents were given or applied for as a function of year Okay, so that’s how I read a graph patents versus year And she broke those down into two cohorts, white people and black people So patents that were granted to, or the inventor was white, or where the inventor was black So this is the data and the cool thing about doing experiments and doing science and working in it as an engineer or health professional is when you collect data and you do a good job, there’s no refuting the data When it comes to conclusions, or two hypotheses, or to what do you do with the data policy, then that’s where humans take over But this is the data And what I hope you noticed is that the scales are quite different So that’s one thing What I hope you notice is that the number of patents given to white people far outweighs much larger than the number of patents given to black people And so what’s the reason for that? Well, I mean, obviously, this is a quite a bit of time ago, but not that long ago So there’s the end of the Civil War and as we all know, black people in this country before the Civil War, were enslaved, probably hard to get an education, let alone have enough resources to get a patent And also, this is also the time when, two years after the United State proclamation, the last group of black people were told by the US government, that they were actually free So just a few years later, we’re seeing that already Some patents are being issued to black people and I would say, holy cow, just a couple of decades later, all that success is really quite amazing Let’s take a little bit more of the data I know I’m a little over time But let’s take a look at some of these numbers here and one thing that’s a little confusing about this graph, so I’m a scientist, I’m supposed to be talking about data If you look at the number of patents, for black people, this axis is much smaller than that one and really, there’s only about one patent per year for black people, and 12,000 patents per year for white people And remember, patents equals wealth The more patents you have, the more wealth you can generate And so you can see here that just 100 or so years ago, the inequities in wealth building are built into our system just because of the history of our people, let alone the barriers that are still put in front of them And then the last point I wanted to make and I know am over time is look at what happened here, right about 1889, 1900 All of a sudden the number of patents issued to black people goes to almost zero, and stays that way for decades All that wealth being lost, and one could ask why So that’s the data Now we can say Well, why? Well, what Dr. Cook, also correlated was the occurrence of violence, racial violence against certain people’s specifically black people And there was actually a peak of that violence, right in that same timeframe And if you think about it, if you are feeling threatened, if you are feeling like your government doesn’t protect you, why would you then seek protection from the government? And for the same reason, if you are not feeling comfortable about taking a class, about going to a graduate program, about applying for a job, that maybe you wouldn’t do that either

So it’s our responsibility, my responsibility to provide help you or feel like you are welcome that you are welcome and comfortable in our society in our classroom and in our boardrooms Thank you I gonna unshare my desktop now hold on There we go – Thank you, Dr. Poler that was awesome I wanna move on to Dr. Stearns and I’m gonna let you just give a little bit more background about yourself, Dr. Stearns – Absolutely thank you so much, Dr. Moore I’m Elizabeth Stearns, and I’m in the Department of Sociology here at UNC Charlotte, where I’ve been since 2005 So I anticipate that most of you will not have already taken a sociology class in high school Some of you may have but it’s a fairly uncommon thing for incoming first year students to have done so you might be asking yourself, what is sociology? Sociology is the study of human group interaction So as sociologists, we tend to use a variety of different research methods and the scientific method to try to understand something about the ways that human beings interact with one another and interact with one another in group settings So we use interviews, we use surveys, we use experiments of various kinds, all and other ways as well, all in an effort to collect data that allows us to observe and interpret how it is and under what conditions people are interacting with one another when and how they’re getting along with one another, and when and how they’re coming into conflict with one another So when we start talking about race and racism, sociologists tend to say, two very broad things about that So first, with regard to race, we as a discipline, talk about race as being something that is socially constructed So if you take an introduction to Sociology course this fall or next spring, I can guarantee you, you will hear that phrase And what it means is that as human beings, we perceive that there are physical differences among us And there is physical differences in appearance, that then get translated into membership in various different racial groups But that process of translation of looking at people with a certain set of physical characteristics and saying, I think you’re a member of this group That process is something that is specific to time and specific to place, such that the process that we have in contemporary America is different from what it was 25 years ago, and very much different from what it was 100 years ago And this is a process that happens subconsciously, we don’t even really think about it And it’s only when we’re transplanted into another society, perhaps when we’re traveling or when we’re reading about a different historical era that we come to understand how race is socially constructed in those ways So we also think and talk, a study about racism, as well So we think about that as being a structure of racially based hierarchies that systematically advantage members of a majority group, in this case, white people, and that systematically disadvantaged minority groups and I think Dr. Poler has given you some excellent examples of those things As sociologists, and particularly in the sociology department at UNC Charlotte, we study race and racial inequality in a variety of different social institutions So with regard to work and people’s experiences in the labor market, with regard to school and their experiences and educational institutions, and with regard to health So one example of a study that a sociologist did and I’ll share my screen with you in just a minute This is not a sociologist from UNC Charlotte But she was really curious to see how people’s experiences differed in labor markets as they were walking into try to apply for entry level jobs And so what she did was something called an audit study, she recruited a couple of people who would work for her as testers, they were men She found men who were of the same age, the same height, the same level of attractiveness, and she coached them to present themselves in exactly the same way So they would go in and apply for jobs with exactly the same set of information Their difference was some of the testers were white and some of the testers were black And she also coached them to sometimes present themselves as having a criminal record as having a felony on record with drug possession

And what the sociologists his name was (mumbles) found was that and let me just share my screen with you But there was a very market difference So like Dr. Poler, I can ask you to pause the video here in this asynchronous format, and take a look at what these findings show you When you do that, you’ll see that the blue bars represent the experiences of black testers and the red bars represent the experience of white testers So right away, you can see that there’s a big difference where the white testers were getting called back much more frequently than the black testers And that’s the case even when the white testers are walking in and saying that they had a felony record You can see here that the experiences of the white testers with felony records outstrip those with a black testers who did not present with felony records So this is an example of the type of research that sociologists do and the approach that they take to investigating what type of impact race has on the ways that people experience major institutions, and how racism shapes those interactions and systematically disadvantages some people stop sharing now – Thank you so much Dr. Stearns so this far in our conversation, you’ve probably figured out that Dr. Poler and Dr. Stearns and have actually given lots and lots of data about what scholars call systemic racism When racism is embedded in systems, we actually see the data behind it when racism is structurally created We also see the data with that and so one of the things that I wanna introduce myself this time is to talk about my work My name is Julia Robinson Moore, students tend to call me Dr. Rob because there’s another professor who almost has the same initials and last name as I do, until I recently got married I’ve been in the department of religious studies since 2005 Maybe I’m in my 16th year I might be It’s been a wonderful place to live and work here in the city of Charlotte And what my specialty is, is African American religion So just by default, I’m always talking about the intersections of race, class, gender, and especially religion And so in answering some of the questions that, were posed to us to think about the first thing I wanna present to you is that how I know what I know, is based on a number of historical documents And I’m unlike some of my other colleagues, not the ones here of course, but I actually find my data very interesting places I go through graveyards, I look through historical church records, I look at anniversary booklets, I even go on journeys to Africa and search out slave dungeons And I look at all of those information, all of the data, all the even the archeological evidence that sometimes you can find at something like slave cemeteries, and I pull all of those resources together to make a narrative about the history of African Americans and how they use religion to sort of navigate their experiences of racism, subjugation, oppression, and certainly looking at the historical specificity of the Atlantic slave trade So that’s really what I do my Courses are created around looking at the multiplicity of religious disciplines that African American peoples throughout the African diaspora practice And what I mean by the African diaspora is that many Africans who were dispersed through slavery through the Atlantic slave trade and develop in places like Brazil, South America, North America, even Europe, as far away as Greenland, and even Iceland, believe it or not And so I look at the ways in which African peoples took their cultural ideas, their belief systems, even their food habits sometimes because religion is such a fluid kind of category, it can incorporate a number of cultural elements So I look at all of those things. And I begin to understand the ways in which African peoples begin to navigate through the history of racism And so this is also answering another part of our questions is that what we know what this data reveal, and for the most part of the data reveal

in terms of my discipline would certainly dovetails and undergirds what you’ve heard Dr. Poler and Dr. Stearns say is that racism is a long standing reality in American culture and despite the the Civil War, despite the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment, despite the modern civil rights movement, the structures and the play of racism and our institutions is still a very viable part of our reality And so again, at if you were to take any one of our courses, you would find us using our skills using our discipline to actually grapple with how do we dismantle this long standing history of racism for me specifically as a religious studies scholar who happens to be historically trained, so that means that my PhD is actually in history But I moved to the Department of religious studies because I wanted to ask different kinds of questions that history department wouldn’t always allow me to explore I’m looking at the ways in which Rastafarian, Nation of Islam 13% or five percenters are more science people and of course, traditional Christians that happen to be African American I’m looking at how the religious structures of these religious traditions shape and form African American identity, movements of protests, and even ideologies of communal gatherings, for protest or identity and even resistance What does rebellion look like when religion happens to be the founding structure of it? The other thing I do is look at the structures of racism itself and as religious study scholar, I actually think racism functions like a religion It has myth, it has rituals that are constantly repeated over time And it has a community that reinforces its identity, as well as those stories in connection with those rituals And so I also have classes where we just actually study the religious makings of what I call the racialization of American people And I’m just not talking about black folks Because white people have been de-ethenicized in American society So those of us who have relatives or friends that were from Ireland, or Poland, when you got to America, those ethnic markers were sort of subsumed under the box of whiteness So here’s another aspect of the classes And then the final thing is what is in dispute That’s the other question that each of us groups so to ask to kind of consider And so we’re blending the kind of weaving these questions throughout the rest of our conversation is for many people, the reason why we started this presentation with bringing you the data is that the reality of racism is still in dispute by many people in our country There are some people that have actually made arguments that racism is not a thing or that because of the election of President Barack Obama, and now of course, we have the election of Kamala Harris that I have read that I say her name, right I hope I did Then Joe Biden Vice President, correct me if I’m wrong Many people think that we live in a post racial society but the reality is the data has shown that racism is still very much a part of our culture, and we need to address that and so we use our courses, we use our teaching skills and we also use our research to think through these things, to partner with other students, as well as our colleagues in order to explore this So that’s it for our five minute sort of presentation We wanna move into our conversation and what we thought would be interesting, especially for those of you who may be entering your first year at UNC Charlotte, we thought to talk about sort of navigating race and our expertise from our various fields with racism around our experience in college, and I will start with myself My first year college I went to a predominantly all white college, it was a private liberal arts college And it turned out that many of my courses I was the only person of color in that class and it was a very challenging time for me because I had come from predominantly African American background

So if I had professors like Dr. Stearns and Dr. Poler in my classes and they begin to use subject matter, they actually spoke to some of the things that I heard my parents talk about, or even my own experience, that would certainly have enhanced my educational experience And so I think all of you are so blessed to come to you and Charlotte at this time, because you have professors who are consciously aware of the realities that are facing our country And so I just wanna leave it at that and invite my colleagues to join in with whatever questions they’d like to ask me or we can just sort of build off of one another – Julia this is Jordan So I really appreciate all your comments and also Elizabeth, analysis, really, really great stuff And for many of us, we’ve been engaged in the fight for social justice and racial and equality for all people gender equality extra, for many years many decades, quite frankly And I just wanted to tie in a little bit with some of Julia’s comments about how she went to an all basically all white University and felt maybe out of place I might be putting some words in her mouth And then also, she made comments really made comments about the ethnicity of white people who came from Europe So my background is I’m Jewish, and my grandparents came just on the heels of Hitler, basically rounding everyone up, and in fact, my grandfather’s side almost everyone was killed in, in Nazi Germany And I’ve been thinking about the connection between the relationship the complicated relationship between the Jewish people and African American people Throughout certainly the civil rights era where there was a lot of cooperation, a lot of camaraderie we’re both enslaved peoples But there now there’s still also a lot of tension, that between different sex different parts of our communities I recently started reading a book, Caste by Isabel Wilkinson, Oprah’s book club, so I wanted to read it And it wasn’t until then that I started really thinking about what Caste meant I mean, we’re familiar with India and the Caste system But she makes a very compelling argument about how in Nazi Germany, they created a Caste system where Jews were the untouchables, and people and gypsies the people you just could, you could just dehumanize them And we did the same thing White people did the same thing to African people, people of the African diaspora and Afro Caribbean people were brought here and dehumanized So that we felt better we can sleep at night when we enslaved them and made them work and did very terrible things So I just wanted to reflect on that And there’s a lot in me that just very personal to me Even though I’m not African American I feel this is a very important moment in history that all of us, especially white people, have to push through and solve – I absolutely agree with you, Jordan I don’t share that particular background but I do think it’s important for those of us who are white, to stand up and to be counted as allies And I think it’s important to for our incoming students to understand that they may have allies in unexpected places And so to try to engage your professors and your instructors on the topics and the material that’s really important to you I think that’s a very good strategy for our incoming students to to pursue I was in a training session over the summer, I was talking with a bunch of professors in chemistry and physics And they were talking about how they could diversify the material that they’re teaching And this one physics instructor said something that really stuck with me she said, my entire semester of physics 101 Each week is named after a different white man, because each week is a different theorem And it’s a different white guy, and I have to teach it because otherwise, this is the foundation of physics What do I do? And one of the suggestions that people have and I thought it’s really a very compelling one

was to look at not so much at the foundations but to look at who were the scientists who are doing the work now ‘Cause, yes, absolutely there are issues in diversity across the professoriate And they are more pronounced in some fields than others But certainly the people who are doing work across disciplines now are more diverse than they were 100 years ago So, there is an opportunity to find work from more diverse voices across disciplines – I think that’s such a key point, both of you and I certainly thank you, Dr. Poler for sharing part of your family’s history I think your two points that come out of both of these conversations is that professors here at UNC Charlotte are trying to recognize the need to bring other voices that have been left out of certain fields, certain disciplines and narratives And so we fast forward from the days when I was first entering college to now, those other voices because the modern civil rights movement was not a total limitation in terms of black equality The reason why we have many Africana Studies departments, the reason why we have many black, in people of color in engineering and the sciences is because of the equality gained through the modern civil rights movement So we have those voices, we have those words And so I think it’s incumbent upon us as professors and certainly you as students to join with us in discovering who are the people of color, whose voices have maybe historically been left out, where are they now how can we blend them into our course And the other thing that we have like to do here at UNC Charlotte is make our classwork meaningful to what’s happening outside We are totally acknowledging that we are living in a pandemic And we also are totally acknowledging that we are living in a place where we have massive racial unrest And I think it’s conversations like these, where we can ask students to help us I’m always finding as a professor, that on the subject matter, a student will actually come in tell me, oh, did you know about this person? Or have you read about this? And so the partnership that happens in terms of our classrooms when we collaborate with students on learning how to bring more diverse voices into our subject matter, and how to make those sort of what we would call current event links with our work, I think is very important and that’s what we’ve tried to do here And we hope you as students first year students coming in many of you, we hope that you partner with us in that The other thing I learned, I wanted to sort of pose to my colleagues for our last couple of minutes is, if there was one thing that you could tell a student of color, as well as any other student that wants to ally with students of color in terms of racial equity, what would that be? And I’m giving you time to think I know (Lisa Laughs) I’ve through my colleagues on the spot But I would say for myself, I would say, don’t be afraid to ask hard questions, whether it is especially on subjects of racism and inequality, that not only are we your professors to teach, you’re a subject matter but we’re also your professors to help you think through what you might be seeing in the news or what you might be experiencing in society And so I think that’s what makes University culture such a positive place is that you have a groups of people that you can think with – I think, I know we’re a little long on time, so I’ll be very brief too brief, but what I tell all students but it’s maybe more pertinent for underrepresented minorities who might feel out of place is to be their own advocate And to believe, and please believe me and the rest of us on this panel that we want you to succeed, we are not out to get you, sorry to hurt you And be your own advocate, when you don’t understand something or you feel uncomfortable about something If you don’t want to raise your hand in class or online Find another way to use your resources to get your professors attention We want to give you that attention we want to help you and maybe that’s even more pertinent for

underrepresented minorities are people who feeling like they just don’t belong Whether it’s your gender, or age gender, or race, or disability or ability I think everyone here wants you to be successful – And if I could just follow up on that briefly, I think it’s especially true if you’re the first person in your family to go to college But I think that it’s really a bears repeating Your professors are here as resources And we do want to see you succeed So take advantage of office hours when professors have them whether they’re having them virtually or at a coffee shop or in person drop in and say hello, introduce yourself That’s, what we’re here for, We love that We love interacting with students who are motivated, we love helping get young people to understand and even not so young people sometimes to understand concepts and to understand them in a new way None of us would be here, if that weren’t part of our job So please take advantage of that opportunity while you have it – Well, thank you, wonderful words, inspiring words So wanna thank you all for listening to us and sort of partnering with us on this journey of talking about racism and equity and justice and we hope that you will glean lots of information and ideas from our talk with you So best of luck on the semester (Jordan mumbles)

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