Updated: Oct 24, 2021
911 Training Institute
It was like a volcanic eruption. All of a sudden, a portion of the city exploded, literally. In the city of Detroit, racial violence between African Americans and police flared up July 23rd, 1967. I was 11-years old at the time. This sudden flare up disrupted my world, and because of the explosive nature of this race-related protest, the curfew that was imposed interfered with my daily routine of preparing to become a basketball star. My mother had to explain to me what a curfew was and why I couldn’t go to the alley where the basketball hoop was to play. So, like most everyone in the city during that period, I was glued to the television news coverage, or I, along with the entire neighborhood, watched the chaos happening around us from my front porch.
My mother, who like my father grew up in rural Jim Crow Georgia, tried to explain it to me. I remember that my first response to her was “that doesn’t make sense!” I had more questions. Since then, I have been exploring how the story of our lived American experience, both past and present, is intricately intertwined with the complicated and unpleasant story of race, ethnicity and identity.
Did you know that just in Detroit alone, the complexities and strains of race relations have resulted in more than eleven (11) race-related eruptions since its incorporation as a city in 1701? And, as we all have recently witnessed, like a seemingly dormant volcano, the complexities and challenges in finding pathways towards a harmonious resolution of our racial, ethnic and identity differences erupts into yet another instance of social chaos, political division and personal reflection. Beyond Detroit, in cities and suburbs from coast-to-coast, our shared history is littered with far too many of these race-related volcanic eruptions! Unfortunately, the seismic patterns echoing within these historic racial challenges make it easy to state that, yes, race-related civil unrest will happen again. It’s just a matter of time; unless we come together to understand and implement the lessons from these past experiences.
My journey of trying to get to the bottom of and understand some of these complexities first started as a personal hobby and has now led me to the field of work called diversity and inclusion. As articulated in the Constitution, we really are still in search of a “more perfect Union.” The focus of diversity and inclusion is to guide us along our shared journey so that we can stop searching and work together towards solutions. The stark reality underlying much of our past racial relationship failures is actually pretty straightforward – our own individual perspectives must fit into an overall mosaic framework that welcomes and enfolds our distinct racial, ethnic and identity characteristics and experiences into inclusive community, social and occupational endeavors. Obviously, the resulting mosaic will be unique and look different based on the community, social or occupational setting and context, but you get the point. Yes, I agree – easier said than done, right!
I’m guessing that as a 9-1-1 and public safety professional with many first-hand multiethnic interactions, that you have somehow been impacted by yet another episode of recent race-related volcanic eruption. What have you done with your thoughts and experiences as you’ve been engaged in or witnessed this recent eruption? What questions have come to mind? How do you find answers to those questions? Did you find any answers? What kinds of conversations have you been engaged in? How are those conversations going?
We’re all in need of conversational opportunities to help process our D&I thoughts and work through our questions. I’ve been engaged in many D&I conversations over the years, and along the way I’ve learned the reality of Ginni Rometty’s comment, “Growth and comfort do not coexist.” So, if you’re willing, tell me your D&I story. I want to know your questions, your thoughts.
At 911 Training Institute, we’re working towards partnership and collaboration with the 9-1-1 family who want to journey towards diversity and inclusion, rather than homogeneity and exclusion. We’re here to provide a forum for you to explore and understand, to assist you in your D&I questions and experiences, your success stories as well as your “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” challenges and frustrations. Tell us: what's your diversity & inclusion story?!
Got D&I questions? Ask Tyrone!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.