As part of the Cincinnati Project, I was invited to participate in discussions at the 2016 NAACP National Conference surrounding police-community interactions. While my primary role was as a scientist, to help collect data to understand how police officers and members of local communities, my experience left me struck by the stories I heard and the emotions they elicited from me. By the time I left, I realized that although I can have empathy, understanding, and can fight to eliminate social injustices, I will not ever understand what it is like to be Black in this country.
cinciproject2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection
By Kelsie Gerard
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by those involved with The Cincinnati Project to participate as a researcher at the annual NAACP Conference. This was a valuable experience for me as an undergraduate student because it was my first time attending a conference.
Kelsie Gerard was one of the students who attended the NAACP Convention in Cincinnati.
While at the conference, it was hard for me not to notice that I was one of the youngest people there, but attending with five of my peers from the University of Cincinnati allowed me to ease into the work more comfortably.
The varying levels of experience my peers have in researching and attending conferences helped make me feel less intimidated by the professional setting.
This was a great opportunity for me to practice my note-taking and listening skills, and learn how to actively apply them to research.
I wanted to be a part of this research process because I want to be an active part of social change in my city. I learned about the history of community-police relations in Cincinnati from the original negotiators of the Collaborative Agreement, and listened and shared countless stories of personal experiences with people from communities all over the country.
I found a sense of unity and connectedness in sharing similar experiences and feelings with everyone in the room, and it makes me realize that I am not in this fight alone.
cinciprojectI want to be an active part of social change in my city
The Cincinnati Project organized quickly when we received a last-minute invitation to help with a series of community-police relations forums at the NAACP Convention.
We were asked to help with qualitative data collection and analysis—in other words, taking detailed notes and writing summaries—in partnership with community members. UC Arts & Sciences undergraduate and graduate sociology and psychology students assisted with this project.
UC students at the NAACP Convention
All of the students have a particular interest in the study of racial inequality and were eager to join the research team. The students benefited not only by being present at a national convention, they (me too!) also had the opportunity to learn from experts outside of UC.
Working with the 2002 Collaborative Agreement
As part of this research project, we met community organizers and facilitators who worked on the 2002 Collaborative Agreement to improve community-police interactions. In our role of taking notes, we listened to their experiences and noted their advice for NAACP attendees who hope to reduce violence against black citizens. This experience is one example of a goal for The Cincinnati Project: UC researchers and students learning from community experts while providing research service.