Reflections on Race: 'How do we make long-term change?'
Jamir Couch is a Long Island native and an attorney who owns a consulting firm. She says long-term change is what's needed as society looks to fix issues of diversity and inclusivity.
"I say that we need to consider how we're more inclusive. How do you make it more comfortable for people to have conversations, for it to be more inclusive, how do we represent those communities, whether it's African American, Hispanic Latino or Asian American, to make sure that everybody has a voice at the table? Are we incorporating concerns and issues related to that community and are we authentic in our conversation with them or are we just slapping something on for a Band-Aid for a minute to make sure people go away and we don't have that conversation again? How do we make long-term change?" says Couch.
Couch's father was recruited to be the first Black teacher in Locust Valley and also served as an assistant county executive. Couch says we're still dealing with the same issues on Long Island that her father did.
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"I think it was great, you know I
was happy to see it, because I think my generation, everybody wanted to leave Long Island, because of their feeling about the lack of diversity on Long Island or the lack of opportunities for young, African Americans and other people of color," says Couch. "So I
think it's great that people are having conversations, it makes everybody part of a conversation, if it's in places where it's not traditionally an African American community or a Hispanic, Latino community for people to consider the issues and that's the thing, everybody needs to come to the table and have a conversation, in order to impact change. And that's the challenge that we've had, it's always a few people saying something, I mean my dad was one of the first assistant county execs, who was African American and he was saying these things along with other gentlemen and women, many years ago consistently, and we're still dealing with the same issues on Long Island, so I think it's time to really confront it and have conversations that will impact change and make change on Long Island."
Couch says she personally experienced racism in her professional life, but notes that sometimes it comes out in subtle ways.
"I think you know as an African American woman, who has been in law, politics and finance, I've seen it on a regular basis. There are things that happen that are more subtle, whether it be in a boardroom or being, pursuing business or just general conversations about comparing notes with an individual of what have you done in your life, your background. And people will question, you know, things that you may share or not believe things that you've done or challenge it and so I've seen it constantly throughout my life."
Couch also spoke to News 12 Long Island about access to credit for minority entrepreneurs as an economic injustice that is not addressed.