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By Nehemiah D. Frank
The lady with a million dollar smile and some good-ole common sense is one way to describe Risha Grant, a cultural competency genius is another.
She is self-described as a small-town girl, ex-preacher’s wife, bisexual and African American. The cards of predictive jeers couldn’t be stacked any higher against her. Yet, having been reared in the most conservative state in the nation — Oklahoma, where not one county voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — she’s learned to recognize her own “BS”. Now, she helps others to understand and acknowledge their own BS, and the city she lives in is better for it.
In 1921, Tulsa witnessed the worst massacre in US history. A white mob traveled across the railroad tracks into the black community of Greenwood and massacred a recorded 300 African-American residents. Some eye-witnesses estimate the death toll was in the thousands. Since the horrific event, building race relations in the city has proven a difficult task to muster.
However, Risha Grant’s book That’s BS is changing that narrative one conversation at a time. And her work, as an Inclusion Diversity Specialist, has played a significant role in bridging the city’s racial divide.
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BS doesn’t stand for bullshit per say but Bias Synapses. Using the abbreviations is Grant’s way of breaking the ice ahead of the difficult conversations that often result from reading her thought-provoking theories, which blossomed from an NYU Professor’s hypothesis: that “memory is the synaptic result of learning.” Professor Joseph LeDoux believes that it is within the synaptic gap that we may find the reasons why some humans react a particular way to specific situations and while others have a complete or unexpected reaction to the same circumstance.
The text also explores complexities around issues of race: “Why are we so scared of each other?” and “Am I a racist?” Hence, the book will make everyone who reads it uncomfortable, which is the purpose of her work: to make participants uncomfortable so they can be open or vulnerable enough to consider transformation as a possibility to a better character.
But don’t worry. Grant’s read is quite comical along the way, as to make the journey in the discovery of self, in an every growing racially diverse world, a bearable road to travel. She makes it easy for you to unpack your self-admitted biases.
At the end of every chapter, she grants the reader permission to reflect, challenge, and heal.
Here’s a tease from page 56:
“Stay conscious about your unconscious biased. Do the work to figure out your bias and give it the top priority it deserves.”
“Be real with yourself. Remember your validated bias is not based on fact. It’s based upon actual experiences that negatively influenced your way of thinking.”
“Never forget that bias is developed from fear. Conquer your fear.”
Nehemiah D. Frank is the Founder & Executive Editor of the Black Wall St. Times. Frank graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL in General Studies, and earned a Political Science degree from Oklahoma State University. He is a community activism, a teacher at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts, a blogger for Education Post, and dedicates most of his time to empowering and uplifting his community of North Tulsa, home to America’s Black Wall Street. Frank is a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation Honoree and the Community Impact Award recipient for the MET Cares Foundation and has been featured on NBC, Blavity, and Tulsa People. His latest accolade includes a TEDx Talk at the University of Tulsa.