Lauren Barney | Staff Writer
Ethics Awareness Week featured racial profiling as part of its 29th annual program at UVU to educate and promote understanding on the complex issue.
In an open conversation setting on Sept. 23, racial profiling among law enforcement was highlighted. John King, Chief of Police for Provo City and Dr. Bryan Hotchkins, a professor at the University of Utah directed the discussion to clarify what racial profiling is and how it has been treated in both a historical and present day perspective.
However, it soon became clear that the emphasis was not only based on law enforcement, it was founded on something more basic. Multiracial audience members composed of students, faculty and community members joined the dialogue in analyzing where racial tensions stem from and what each person can do to change the pattern.
“Why do we have racial tension in America?” King asked audience members. Participants considered the role of history, assumptions of one’s character and fear of the unknown in creating tension. A shift was made from placing all responsibility and power on law enforcement to placing responsibility on each individual in the community.
The idea behind breaking the ice to talk about race issues and be able to stand up in situations of discrimination was a key point for the discussion. King outlined how law enforcement officers and community members alike can make changes through training, creating a social contract to treat others with respect, listening and sharing.
Hotchkins addressed the history of racial profiling and the similarities and differences in today’s society. From slavery to brutal police arrests, Hotchkins emphasized that the terms and perceptions in society surrounding race must be changed.
“Because it has taken 400 plus years to create the climate… discussions such as these are the beginning of reversing our way of thinking,” Hotchkins said.
The call to action for each member of society was the underlying theme of the session. Audience members were equipped with both the knowledge of racial profiling and the understanding of how each person can get involved and work together regardless of race or ethnicity.
“It’s OK to be black people. It’s OK to be white people. It’s OK to be together,” King said. “We have to be open. We have to talk.”