In a very special edition of the weekly, local public affairs program Southern Tier Close Up, the new Vice President for diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Karen A. Jones talks with host, Kathy Whyte about opening up those uncomfortable but conversations about racism, sexism and other prejudices.

Binghamton University photo, Dr. Karen Jones

In this time of demonstrations and moving toward change during the Black Lives Matter movement, many social and cultural groups are finding themselves looking inward and outward in ways they never have before.

Dr. Jones says while there is a "bubbling up of awareness" toward social inequality, there has to be a step back to examine the true facts in order for real change to happen.

Dr. Jones, who most recently was the chief diversity officer at SUNY Buffalo State College, relays her personal experiences to explain why being "colorblind" may not be the true way toward equality while preserving a person culture and other elements that make them who they are.

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Jones also discusses with Kathy Whyte about why many white people feel they have to be careful in the current environment about what they say, even with the best intentions, for fear they will be taken the wrong way.

Getty Images/Hemera

Complicating Dr. Jones' mission to further the advancement of equity and inclusion for all races, gender, religions and social-economic dynamics both on and off-campus is the coronavirus pandemic.  Jones says she is a social person and not being able to hold face-to-face interactions has been a challenge.

Talking openly about what makes us uncomfortable can make for healthy steps forward and future conversations may be coming in the future on Southern Tier Close Up. Stay tuned.

Southern Tier Close Up airs Sunday at  6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.