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‘It is no longer acceptable to be insensitive:’ local leaders speak out about racial tensions in America

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - It's been nearly two weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and racial tensions are high across America.

On Friday, Beckley attorney Robert Dunlap and Beckley psychologist Dr. Kristi Dumas, along with Bishop Frederick Brown, with the Faith Center Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, stopped by the WVVA studio to discuss the current state of race relations.

Dr. Dumas and Dunlap shared their thoughts on WV Gov. Jim Justice's comments this week that former Pres. Barack Obama is not welcome in West Virginia.

"That was ridiculous…let's just be honest, we are talking about the same governor who used the term thug and we all know that is a euphemism for a different word we don't use anymore," said Dunlap. "...Thug is never acceptable when you're referring to people of color."

"What we are saying across the globe is that is no longer acceptable to be insensitive. You have to be sensitive, you have to be thoughtful," said Dr. Dumas. "If that's how you truly felt... it was a racist and derogatory term and it should never have even been stated that everyone was welcome here but (Pres. Obama)."

Dr. Dumas also stressed the importance of voting and holding elected officials accountable for their actions.

"We have to be willing to have tough conversations…we have to be willing to sit down at the table and hear the heart of the people," said Dr. Dumas. "We have to make systemic changes and certainly policy changes need to be the first thing on the agenda."

In regards to race relations, some people refute "black lives matter" on social media and other platforms with the statement "all lives matter." Bishop Brown addressed that statement.

"We're all conscious of the fact all lives matter. The issue we're facing right now is whether black is included in the 'all," said Bishop Brown. "I think that's the greatest challenge that we're dealing with in this country."

Bishop Brown also shared his thoughts on Gov. Justice's controversial statement that the first African American President in U.S. history is not welcome in West Virginia.

"...West Virginia, we've always had our share of difficulties as it relates to race relations," said Bishop Brown. "To have a governor make a statement like that, of course we know he later came back with a statement, tried to bring some clarity, but nevertheless, it's still an issue when we have a governor in a crisis, in the time time we're facing (say that). It's tough."

The full interviews will air this Sunday June 7 on In Focus at 9 a.m. on WVVA.

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Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor and Producer

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