Campus News

'Behind the Blue': Navigating Difficult Conversations Around Racial Inequality

Student in a mask.
Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky, (Oct. 23, 2020) — Nationwide, protests in the United States have captivated humans around the globe, catapulting discussions of race, justice and policing to the forefront of national discourse. 

While police brutality has been reported in the U.S. for decades, high-profile incidents of police using deadly force against unarmed people of color has emphasized the need for intentional dialogue surrounding racial injustice and systemic racism.

“For people who are racially minoritized, the recent uprisings are part of a continued conversation that has never been optional to engage,” said Nicole Martin, director of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity Education (IEDE) at the University of Kentucky. “What we are witnessing in the uprisings is a response to a centuries long cry for recognition of Black humanity and Black life. For those whom society at large does not appear to apply the lens of race, there has been an increased desire for education around the history and theories of race in the United States.”

As protests continue around the world, it is evident that individuals are ready to engage in advocacy, revolution and, most often, conversation. 

Although conversation alone will not lead to the dismantling of the oppressive systems that have led to the political, economic and social suppression of Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color, ongoing dialogue can serve as a catalyst in igniting the change necessary to create the equity that marginalized communities deserve.

On this week’s edition of “Behind the Blue,” Martin and her colleague Rae Loftis, IEDE associate director, discuss navigating difficult conversations surrounding race and equity, why these conversations are important in moving the campus forward and the role IEDE plays at the university in creating a campus community invested in expanding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

IEDE serves the university as a centralized educational unit for expanding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Rooted in an organized effort to create a campus community invested in exposing, challenging and minimizing the effects of interpersonal and institutionalized discrimination, IEDE is committed to supporting the broader mission of UK’s strategic plan. 

To learn more about IEDE and its services, click here

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The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.