Community Blog

DCABPI has launched a Blog series in an effort to enlighten viewers / readers about people and local leaders who are making a difference, as well as positive contributions right here in Durham.

For this series, DCABPI Intern (Taylor Rosbrook - NCCU Class of 21) conducts interviews for our DCABPI - Blog page.  Each interview explores the perspectives shared by individuals from different professional backgrounds (eg, politics, healthcare, housing, education, business) to include DCABPI BoD members, Community Activists, and other local residents.

Interview questions and answers address the following issues:

  • Where / how do you see Racial Inequity exhibited in your everyday lives or career path?  

  • What changes could be made in Durham communities to achieve Racial Equity?

Posted on June 9, 2021

Today, Taylor discusses the career path of Dr. Rochelle Newton, EdD, Assistant Divisional Chief Operating Officer

at Duke Health Technology Solutions. 

Taylor: If you could give a little background about yourself and what you do in the community. How have you seen Racial Inequity exhibited in your everyday life and/or career path?   And, what changes could be made in Durham communities to achieve Racial Equity?

Dr. Newton: I am an IT professional, and I have worked in IT for 44 years. In Information technology, systemic and institutional racism is everywhere. There is no part it is not. In the commercial marketplace like, facial recognition, two-factor identification, there is so many places where this exist. This is in large part because the people who design these systems and develop these systems are normally white and male. Black and brown people, rarely,

are at the forefront of current or emerging technology. If you have a smartphone, if you have social media, you

are using the resources that others developed, at your peril no less. If you use social media, they capture everything you post, every word you type, and they make some kind of judgement. This is partly how the corruption happened in the 2016 election.

There are always examples of how the system is always turning inward on those who need the system the most. In IT, black and brown people are first hired, first fired. So, as soon as you come in, you go right back out -- a revolving door. And they are not paid equitably. They are not put in places where they can have leadership, or have a voice, or even a seat at the table. So, there are a lot of examples where racial inequity shows up in various ways in my field. It shows up in various ways in all fields, and it’s not unique to IT. What is happening in IT is happening in ever field. In the area where I work specifically, you look down the hall and everybody that you are looking down the hall at is usually white and male. So how do we change this?

There is a lot of things to be said to change. Companies can be intentional about hiring and promoting and paying black, brown, and women fairly. It is a complex problem to change. Something as simple as “pay equity” is an example. The people around never know how much each other makes unless you are in state government. But for the most part, paid salaries are confidential. Companies like to keep that information confidential. They tell their employees to not discuss their salaries with other employees because that way they can control the narrative. If you’re getting paid $10,000 less than your colleague, as long as you don’t know you’re getting paid $10,000 less, you’re not going to make a ruckus. But once you find out, it may cause an issue. Black and brown communities see this at a higher rate than anyone else. You get hired, you’re excited. You got a new job they say they are going to pay you “X” thousands of dollars. All we hear is that “X’ thousands of dollars, we don’t pay attention to the number. The first day you are hired -- when they offer you for the job -- that is your only chance to negotiate your salary, your benefits, and whatever you want. Most of us don’t think about that.

 

The institution has to protect their own environment. They have to preserve what they want to preserve. In most cases, they preserve white men. White women are also not paid equitably either. They also do not have the same opportunities. If you look at people who serve on boards, people who are in charge, people who make decisions; they are rarely black or brown. To change it we need to be intentional. So, organizations can put policies and practices in place that allow that change, and that rewards people that are doing things that allow differences. And I’m not talking diversity with black and brown, I’m talking diverse ideas, diverse thoughts, diverse persons -- all that combined. You have to be intentional about paying people. Nobody wants to pay everybody the maximum they can pay, but you should pay everybody equitably. If you have people in your organization where their pay is out of sequence, then you should try to find out about getting that equitable. If everyone is a teacher, then everyone should make about the same money if they have the same job description and same job title as opposed to Teacher A making much more. The reverse argument is that this person is a better teacher and been there longer than this person, so obviously, that person should make more. But the discrepancy between the two salaries should be just that -- that over the years these pay increases equal up to a number that makes sense as opposed to being so lopsided that one person makes $30,000 and another makes $90,000. It should not be that out of sync.

 

Another way is when we hire. Typically, if you’re hiring for a senior leadership position, the only people interviewing the candidates are senior leaders, but if you bring in people who look differently and work differently, you will have a more diverse outcome than you do on systems where you have all the like people hiring who they want to hire. Another place where change could happen is advocacy. If you are in a position of power, you should also be an advocate for people that work with you and people you know. What I mean by that, is not that you’re trying to be a mentor or a coach and saying all these nice things to people, and do this and do that, but an advocate. It means you pick up the phone and you call somebody, or you write a letter of recommendation, or help somebody get a job. You are not just talking, but you’re doing, and you are standing with that person along their journey. The last thing we should be doing is that if we find where discrimination exists in any form, we should root it out. One of the discriminations we accept easily in our society is ageism. So, younger people are better at doing for the world than older people without realizing the values of both groups together. If someone is working at your company and their 60, and another is 20, there should be a partnership or an alliance between those two people. We should see the value in both. The new person is going to bring in new ideas and change, but the older person is going to let you know what worked and didn’t work before. They are both contributing to the result.

Taylor: I think the word intentional is important because that is the point of our Inc. (DCABP Inc.) is to create intention within our community because these issues have been going on.

Dr. Newton: Right, it’s just like imagine one day you go to bed, and you wake up the next morning and you’ve won the lottery. You won 100 million dollars. All your family and friends show up at your doorstep for money. If you have 100 million dollars and 100 million friends and family, and you give each one of them $1, then you no longer have anything and that is the way white privilege, white supremacy works. It is exactly that. The person that has power is not willing to give it away because it creates a voice for them. They might not know when they will need extra, so they don’t want to give all their money or the power away. So, when black, brown, and women come to look for some of that power sharing, the person who owns the power sits back in a position where they are trying to weight what is best for them and for those that they care about. White privilege exists because the people that have the power are afraid of losing it. So, it becomes a tug of war battle. There is envy. Black people have found a way to pull themselves up and create a life for themselves and people become envious, so they take it away. Whenever those in power feel threatened, those that are the recipients of power become an enemy.

 

We have two separate societies of white privilege and everybody else hoping to get in, to fit in, and that is exactly what is happening around us. Until we learn how to disentangle that and break that apart, we are going to continue to have this problem in society with the haves and the have-nots. I’ve asked the question before; can black and brown people have privilege? It is a very interesting question because in reality, as long as the person who holds the power or privilege gives it to you, you do. If you are in the presence of your white boss, he or she can grant you privilege, but the minute you leave that environment you may not have your privilege anymore. That is the cycle of why we are in the conundrum of how do we get from Point A to Point B. It is a process of understanding why white people hold so fiercely to the ideas that they do. Why black and brown people have not found out the method or the engine to disintegrate that thought process because it really is just a belief. Somebody believes so strongly in something that they are unable see anything else. Like Republicans and Democrats, both of them hold on to strong ideologies and they hold on to them fiercely because they believe what they believe. None of them are willing to move an inch and realize they could be wrong.

 

Back in the 70s, there was this big idea about “being right”, we all want to be right. If you and I got in an argument right now about what time it is, my clock says it is 11:33, but you are sure your clock says 11:35, we are so fierce in our beliefs that our clock is right that we are not coming together. What is the value or being right? What does it matter that your clock says 11:35 and mine says 11:33? What is the value of proving that you are right? Did you lose an ally? Did you hurt someone’s feelings just to prove you are right? Sometimes it doesn’t matter to be right, it matters to be empathetic. It matters to be patient; it matters to be kind as opposed to be the winner. The person who has everything is the person who is always right.

The United States is not unique in this. Everywhere in the world practices this -- Japan and India, they have caste systems. Africa has political machinery that fails. You pick any country, they have the same system -- it just looks a little different. The problem is not unique to white men. It is unique to people who are used to being in power and the threat to that power. Anything that threatens that power, threatens the established belief or philosophy that group holds on to. Anything that threatens that must go away. We had an insurrection on the Capitol not too long ago because people believed so firmly that who was in the White House hadn’t won and they thought they were doing the right thing. It is not that these people were thinking, “Oh, let me go in here and destroy this.” They had been convinced so much that what they believed was true and they could not see anything else but that. Whether they were right or wrong, it is not relevant. They believed what they believed so fiercely that their election was stolen, that that man did not lose.

Posted on April 29, 2021

Today, Taylor discusses the career path of Dr. Zaphon R. Wilson, Chair & Associate Professor at North Carolina Central University - Public Administration Department. 

Taylor: If you could give a little background about yourself and what you do in the community. How have you seen Racial Inequity exhibited in your everyday life and/or career path?   And, what changes could be made in Durham communities to achieve Racial Equity?

 

Dr. Wilson: Yes, I am from Wilkes County (NC), moved here from Savannah, Georgia where I was a department chair at Savannah State University and Georgia Southern at Armstrong. I’ve been in higher education for about 35 years.

I started at Appalachian State University, spent some time at Hampton University, and at St. Augustine University for about 5 years. I’ve been here at North Carolina Central University, now going on my fourth year. So, I’ve been around the block a few times. A lot of the work I've done has been in Community Service and working on a planning board.

I have also held offices with several professional organizations.

I have an interest in public administration and public policy because when I was a kid, urban renewal went through our community and my grandmother worked really hard to keep her home. She was able to keep her home and move into another section of the community. That was my first interaction with housing policy, housing inequities, and just a general kind of dynamic that took place in small communities when it came to providing affordable housing. One of my first jobs was with a planning firm in Elizabeth City, NC where we did Community Development and Planning. I’ve been involved in housing for a very long time along with this whole idea of Community Engagement and Involvement.

Posted on March 30, 2021

"Often times, policies within our system can create devastating racial disparities in our community. It is DCABP Inc's mission to bring to the forefront issues related to these disparities that go unvoiced and ignored. We can see these disparities within housing, voting, civic participation, education, etc. As a long-time community member and student of Durham, NC, I believe Durham could benefit tremendously from the efforts of an organization like DCABPI and the conversations they bring to the table of racial equality within the community."

Taylor C. Rosbrook

Senior Political Science Student

North Carolina Central University

Posted on March 26, 2021

"The way that DCABP Inc. strives for racial equality is by attending meetings with the community and speaking up on the concerns of the communities. Making their voices be heard."

Imani Sanford

Senior, Political Science Student

North Carolina Central University

Posted on March 5, 2021

"The 2020 elections proved the extraordinary power of the African American vote in electing candidates that are committed to equity and fairness in our governmental policies.  We are already seeing efforts in many states to suppress the right of African Americans to vote in future elections to enhance the election of candidates that lack a commitment to equality and justice.  The African American community must remain a leading voice in advancing human rights at home and abroad, especially in ensuring that each citizen has a voice in promoting democratic principles and outcomes for all Americans." 

Dr. Allan Cooper

Professor of Political Science

North Central Central University

TESTIMONIALS

Browse below through real testimonials from others who have been engaged with

DCABPI Courageous Conversation forums, aka, Unifying Community Voices (UCV) .

"I look forward to driving deeper

into the topic matter."

"Thanks this is good.. We need to have this conversation to move forward as one, united. I love it."

Man Writing

"Great event!! Especially loved that the session attendees were multi-generational and fully engaged. Kudos to DCABP Inc. and Courageous Conversation Global Foundation for making it happen. Keep it coming ya'll!"

"Great Experience!"

"I thoroughly enjoyed this session."

"I sincerely enjoyed all of the robust conversations and varying perspectives. Also, Andrea was an
awesome facilitator and did a wonderful job setting the container for the space."

 Check our "EVENTS" page for upcoming community activities!