Tackling racism with virtual reality

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — They say you can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. For people of color the reality of racism is a constant fight every day.

Sometimes racism is obvious, in the forefront. Other times – it’s subtle.

“Sometimes you may not understand how these microaggressions feel but when you walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes you start to feel it, and start to understand it in some aspect,” said Quentin Tyler, Associate Dean and Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at MSU.

But what if someone could experience racism first hand? Tyler says that’s what a new project at MSU will do. The goal is to build more inclusion through real world situations using virtual reality.

“For example if you’re a faculty member if you hear some biases called out or racism called out in your classroom you may not know how to handle it. but actually you can go through the lens of a student’s standpoint…but also how you would handle it as a faculty member.”

Students say it’s a tool they think will help build awareness.

“I think that would be a good way to actually think about it and try to understand better,” MSU student Bobby Nader said.

Destyni Luna says she thinks the technology will also help others empathize with other people.

“I think it’s really easy for people to not take into consideration what it’s like to be a part of a minority group or have a different experience so I think that’s really cool,” Luna said.

Tyler says it’s only a stepping stone for enacting real change.
“We’re gonna take ourselves out of the simulation and have conversations about this at the conclusion of the simulation,” he said.

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