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Race Expert: Iowa, Like Trump, Has Bias Problems to Address

Discrimination may no longer be seen at drinking fountains, but a Des Moines School Board member says it's prevalent in education, health care and the justice system. (WikiImages/Pixabay)
Discrimination may no longer be seen at drinking fountains, but a Des Moines School Board member says it's prevalent in education, health care and the justice system. (WikiImages/Pixabay)
August 17, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – President Donald Trump's comments in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., are leading some people to see what many minorities have seen all along, according to a cultural competence expert in Iowa.

Trump is being criticized for blaming racial violence in Virginia on, "both sides."

Des Moines School Board member Dionna Langford, who works for the organization Children and Families of Iowa, says racial disparities are evident throughout the state. She says they're apparent in Iowa education, health care and justice.

"We always fluctuate between number one and three for incarcerating the highest percentage of African-Americans in the country,” she points out. “We can't say that's because black folks are more prone to crime. Research debunks that. So, there's something in our system, in how we do business."

Langford says if individuals could live in minorities' shoes for even a day, they would begin to see how prevalent such bias is.

In the meantime, she's hopeful that people will reject the president's rhetoric and begin donating time to organizations that give them a window into other cultures.

Langford, who is certified in critical cultural competence and engages in social work, argues that there's nothing to misunderstand about a variety of comments from Trump that both political parities have criticized. She says it's very clear and it's unfortunate that the larger community didn't see it coming earlier.

"The conversation, it's black and white for me,” she states. “There's nothing missing from it. This isn't like, to me, a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's always, he's always, been a wolf."

Langford says there are many constructive ways that communities and businesses can work to address bias.

She gives the example of a company that is lacking a representative number of minorities. The answer, she says, isn't to hire unqualified candidates but to look critically at why enough minorities aren't being attracted to apply.
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Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA