Interview with Author Aundrea DeMille.
Hearing a constant litany of news stories about racial injustices occurring can feel disparaging and hopeless. For author and entrepreneur Aundrea DeMille, it is her call to action. Aundrea serves her community through Project Gateway: Equity & Opportunity Commission for Utah. Through her book, Is It Racism, How to Heal the Human Divide and Bunny Seeds, she offers readers a mind model to assess and check their own biases. While Aundrea confirms that change needs to occur on a systemic level, it is our responsibility as individuals to start the change within ourselves to dismantle racism. Aundrea draws on powerful anecdotes in her book to bring awareness and foster empathy for another’s experience. What prompted you to write this book?
I have five boys. When George Floyd was murdered, it was the first time that I saw the racial injustice impact my kids. My 13-year-old, who was 12 at the time, cried almost every day for a week straight. So, I made a video and put it on social media about what it's like raising black and brown boys. It got the attention of our governor, Governor Cox of Utah. And so, Governor Cox and Lieutenant Governor Henderson and our first lady came to my home to just kind of talk and understand what the black experience is like. We had this beautiful time together, where I shared some of the stories that we've experienced, from some racial biases and sometimes racism. We cried together and laughed together and just became really good friends. I went on to later learn how my stories had impacted the governor and his administration. Eventually, they commissioned me to a team called Project gateway to help with equitable policy suggestions. But, when I learned how impactful my stories were on the governor and the state of Utah, I thought, well, if it can have that impact on such a state level, then what would the stories do for the world? I decided to write a collection of stories of racial biases that my family has experienced, and how to wake up to our own racial biases, and reprogram the subconscious mind to help heal the human divide and create a better world. Recently, I have seen a lot of people online bringing up the contrast between how Tamir Rice was treated and how Kyle Rittenhouse is being treated by the system and how this racial inequality still prevails. Can you speak a little bit about that?
It's very evident that our systems are still broken and there are racial biases that lead people to make decisions, even though they're sworn to look at the facts and determine whether someone is guilty or not. What I see is their own biases from the systems are impacting people's decisions to still treat people differently based on the color of their skin, as we see with the whole Rittenhouse situation. The more we can wake up to what's really happening, and use what I have in my book called The Mind Model to reprogram our mind and make a difference, these things will continue to persist. That's why I put this book together, because if we see folks for who they are and lead from a place of empathy, then we're more likely to come from a place of compassion. Right now, our biases are standing in the way. We have to be willing to remove those until things can be better.
Absolutely. I've heard the phrase, “I don't see color.” Why is not “seeing color” actually harmful?
Color blindness, first of all, is a privilege. It's so harmful because it allows us to not see people for who they truly are. We all bring something different to the table, and a part of our ethnic culture and our race is who we are. Being colorblind doesn't help, because it allows us to not be empathetic with other people. Until we can really see and understand how other people feel and what they physically have gone through, then we won't be able to change it. My 7-year-old son came home just a few months ago. And he said, ‘Mommy, because you are black, you don't deserve to own a house. You don't deserve to own property.’ And I said, ‘Well, why did you say that? And he said, ‘Well, because your black skin reminds people of darkness and evilness.’ And so, he's clearly not learning this at home, and he's mixed. I have five boys. The first two are black, the last three are half white, half black. And so, this was one of the half white, half black kids. That statement, his feelings, are a direct correlation to the detriment of being color blind. Clearly, he's learning out in the world, in school, in his video games, that black people don'