Dr. Oscar Holmes IV on TEDx: Police Brutality Tip of Racism, Discrimination Iceberg


By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

CAMDEN Dr. Oscar Holmes IV, the award-winning associate dean at Rutgers University-Camden’s School of Business, said if people limit racism and discrimination down to police brutality, it will miss the overall effect the issues have on Blacks in society at large.

Holmes, the director of the Rutgers University Student Executive program, or RUSE, at Rutgers-Camden, made the comments during a new TEDx talk.

The respected business educator said while police brutality is an important issue, focusing on that alone will result in people overlooking all of the less conspicuous ways that racism kills.

“We will fail miserably to move the needle on eliminating racism in our society, and more black people will die,” Holmes said.


The death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police in 2020 caused many to react to the crimes committed against Black Americans in the form of police brutality and pledged to support the black community, a statement on YouTube accompanying the TEDx talk said.

Many times, police actions are the tip of a very deep iceberg of unseen racism that creates a social climate in which it is easier for these acts to occur. Many businesses and people of influence, though, have missed the bigger picture.

“They understood how racism kills black people through police brutality but they didn’t see the other less conspicuous ways that racism kills,” Holmes said. “And moreover, they didn’t see themselves as perpetrators of that racism.

“Though disappointing, this is actually not a surprise because as a researcher, I’ve studied discrimination, bias and oppression for over a decade. And I’ve written specifically about the many ways that racism kills black people.”

Holmes said there is an expectation that Blacks and others forgive the perpetrators for their racism. He pointed to several examples, such as the 2018 death of Botham Jean in Dallas while in his own apartment by then police officer Amber Guyger. Jean brother was hailed for forgiving her.

When Dylann Roof killed nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, the police officers who arrested Roof took him to Burger King for a meal before turning him in.

Holmes said acts of racism and discrimination must come with concrete efforts to correct the harm done and to make the victims of such acts whole again.

“Legendary activist Malcolm X reminds us if you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six, there’s no progress,” Holmes said. “If you pull it out all the way, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wounds that the knife made.

“So the next time you see people, urging black people to absolve and forgive others for their racism so that they can quickly jump to the happy Hallmark ending that they expect and are comfortable with, stop and make sure the perpetrator is actually held accountable for their racist behavior and advocate for their appropriate restitution to black people to heal the blow,” Holmes said.

See his complete TEDx talk here:

Holmes is the founder and CEO of WHConsulting Firm LLC and creator and host of “Diversity Matters” podcast. His research examines how leaders can maximize productivity and well-being through fostering more inclusive environments and has been published in several top-tier management journals and books. He earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Management from the University of Alabama, M.L.A. from the University of Richmond, and a B.S. with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also an alumni of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Summer Institute in General Management. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at www.ted.com/tedx.

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