Mar 8, 2022
Meet Matthew Harrison. He’s the senior Vice President for Talent & Development and Diversity/Equity/Inclusion at Jackson Healthcare. A graduate of the University of Georgia and Emory, Dr. Harrison is also well known for his research on colorism, which deals with discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
He worked toward that position after learning early in life that he didn’t want to be a farmer like his father in Maysville, a small town northeast of Atlanta. Acknowledging that baling hay in Georgia’s summer heat can shape your career choices every bit as much as encountering prejudice early can, Dr. Harrison used a cool February day to address the biases that makes Black History Month a necessity in the first place.
“As human beings, we’re wired to be more naturally OK with people who are similar to us,” Harrison said. “One of the biggest issues we have … is that we all want to ignore that we have that bias. The bias isn’t what the issue is — because we naturally have it. … What potentially makes you wrong is how you choose to allow that bias to impact the decisions that you make. We tend to get so stuck at being able to even acknowledge that the biases exist that a lot of times, the conversations stop there.”
Dr. Harrison says it takes boldness to take the next step.
“I think to act like a true Samaritan, we have to take that walk from Jerusalem to Jericho together,” he said. “The Black Lives Matter movement is not just about Black people. The #StopAAPI hate movement isn’t just about Asians and Asian-Americans. The Women’s Movement really wasn’t just about women. The sooner we realize that something just because is happening to someone else … we have to realize that it also impacts us. it’s about coming together and walking together.”