Lafayette Urban Ministry tackling the topic of racial bias

LUM staff members take a retreat once a year to be educated on various social topics. This year was all about race, diversity, and inclusion.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 6:38 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2019 8:12 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Lafayette Urban Ministry staff is always working on ways to improve their services.

LUM staff members take a retreat once a year to be educated on various social topics. This year was all about race, diversity, and inclusion.

Staff members are heading back to work with a new perspective.

“We can not escape the forces and influences of racism, we are affected whether we are white or black or any person of color,” said LUM’s Good Samaritan Program Director, Linda Hicks.

LUM Executive Director, Joe Micon said this isn’t a topic unique to the people LUM serves.

“It's appropriate that not only Lafayette Urban Ministry talk about race,” said Micon. “It's something that every small business, every large company, every university department, and college ought to be doing.”

LUM serves a community from all walks of life, the retreat focused on understanding why there's discomfort when talking about racial inequality.

“Our whiteness, what are the things that we say, what are the things that perhaps we do that contribute to ongoing racism in our lives and in our community,” said Micon.

Micon said being aware of internal biases will improve communication with the people they serve.

“It's a topic that always has to be on the forefront,” said Micon.

Hicks said she’s developed a new awareness as she interacts with clients.

“How am I bringing racism forward even when I don’t know it,” said Hicks. “When somebody comes in the door and I see that that's a person of color or that's a white person, what do I bring forward that I have internalized, that maybe I don't know I'm presenting."

Hicks, like LUM’s Youth Program Director Kristi Hogue believe this retreat was beneficial for LUM's staff.

“Maybe being part of those conversations is maybe even more uncomfortable for white people but it makes it even more important when you're working with such a diverse population,” said Hogue.

LUM reports that more than half its staff members are white, while more than half the people they serve belong to minority groups.

Micon used Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s video on “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” as a teaching tool.

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