Local Evansville organization tries to ‘BRIDGE’ the racial gap


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Tri-Staters are breaking down barriers built by skin color through a series of open forum discussions. 

“In Vanderburgh County, the unemployment rate for white people is only 4.4%, for black people it’s 11.3%,” said Paul Leingang.

That almost 7% difference is just one of many factors BRIDGE is trying to spotlight during their series of open forum discussions this fall. BRIDGE is an organization aimed at building respect and integrity in diverse Greater Evansville. 

The panels provide people information so they can better understand the roots of racism and how to recognize it in everyday life. 

“When you’re African-American or you’re Hispanic, you don’t get to see people that look like you. I’ve never had a black doctor treat me,” said Lori Sherman.

The discussion Sunday broke down the difference between subconscious and intentional bias.

“Very rarely do you see officers that look like you. I think that plays a role because what it tells kids is that, ‘Okay, the people that are successful don’t look like me.’ So, it’s very hard to chisel away at that mindset,” said Sherman.

Members of the public were also given the chance to share their own stories of racism in the area. One audience member said her landlord questioned her after she had African-American friends visit her apartment. 

“If you get beat down so hard over periods of time, it’s very hard to speak up. But when people do speak up, change occurs,” said Charlie Berger.

People were given a take-home tool to help break down their perception of their own privilege. The next panel in the series will be held on August 26th, at the Oaklyn Library.

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(This story was originally published on August 18, 2019)

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