UBC Okanagan speaker series on systemic racism provides public forum on difficult topic

'Systemic Racism' in society, it's a problem that most people don't want to talk about or even admit to. But at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus, the Provost speaker series has offered a dialogue on the difficult discussion since March.

Education was front and center during UBC’s Okanagan provost speaker series webinar on Friday.

The speaker series is designed to address systemic racism across the country.

“Today’s webinar began with George Floyd’s immortal words ‘I can’t breathe,'” said UBC Okanagan provost Ananya Mukherjee-Reed.

“When we say systemic racism, what we mean is certain groups in our society experience certain disadvantages systematically. So whether it’s through the education system, health care or police, government.”

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According to Mukherjee Reed, one inherent danger of systemic racism is the idea that individuals can’t do anything about it because it is within the system.

“Each of us need to believe that we have the power to make social change,” Mukherjee-Reed said.

“And if we don’t, we need to convene the power along with others to make social change.”

Randy Lennon is a former police officer in rural Alberta. He says he’s well-versed in systemic racism and the need to address it.

“We can literally have a huge impact on how we impact on others by simply careful and intentional with our language,” Lennon told Global News.

Lennon is the author of a brand new book called ‘The Dirty Words’. He believes that dealing with systemic racism starts with an individual reckoning.

“Absolutely, take a look in the mirror,” Lennon said.

“Awareness is No. 1, but once you are aware of it, what are you going to do about it?”

Mukherjee-Reed said doing something about it is exactly what UBCO’s provost speaker series is trying to achieve.

“The rewards are enormous the rewards are a just society that will benefit everyone,” Mukherjee-Reed said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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