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Racism study authors talk highlighting the past and making suggestions for the future

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Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media

In early 2021, eight University of South Florida researchers, as well as a few St. Pete residents started work on the $50,000 study commissioned by city officials.

On this week’s Florida Matters, we talk to Dr. Ruthmae Sears and Gwen Reese, two authors of a recently released study on structural racism in St. Petersburg’s past and present.

RELATED: Structural racism has long been a part of St. Petersburg. City Council is ready to help change that

Sears is the lead investigator of the project and a University of South Florida mathematics professor. Reese is the president of the African American Heritage Association of St. Petersburg.

In early 2021, eight University of South Florida researchers, as well as a few St. Pete residents started work on the $50,000 study commissioned by city officials. Along with outlining the city’s history with racial inequities, the report also includes the authors’ suggestions on how to make changes.

RELATED: Authors Present Initial Findings On Structural Racism In St. Petersburg

Released last month, the study took six months to complete. St. Petersburg city council members voted to approve the findings at a meeting in early December, but it’s still unclear how they will address the issues.

As Black women, both Sears and Reese talked about the emotional toll working on the study had on them. They said writing about the past injustices that affected Black residents was emotionally triggering for them. And at 72 and a St. Petersburg native, Reese said she lived through most of the events highlighted, which made the experience even more difficult for her.

You can listen to Newborn's conversation with Sears and Reese by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen on the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

Hi there! I’m Dinorah Prevost and I’m the producer of Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show. That basically means that I plan, record and edit the interviews we feature on the show.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.