NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A regional organization is inviting the community to join them to have courageous conversations about laws and policies that contribute to racial inequities.

In 2018, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation launched an initiative focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The initiative includes a five-year strategic roadmap that includes engaging the community, aligning the foundation’s grantmaking and scholarship programs to help with racially equitable outcomes, provide leadership to address systemic racism, and hold community-wide conversations about both the history of racism and opportunities for racial equity and healing in Hampton Roads.

“We have been committed to this work,” said Vivian Oden, who is the foundation’s vice president for equity and inclusion. “We’ve been looking at ourselves internally and externally. It’s important for us to come together as a community and have these conversations where people are able to find ways and advocate for systemic change in their communities.”

The foundation has hosted a number of events including their “Unmasking Hampton Roads” series as well as other community conversations.

“It’s important to have these conversations and take this journey together,” Oden said.

On Tuesday, May 24, the foundation is hosting a free virtual event called “Racial Inequities in Law.” The event will discuss how laws and policies contribute to structural racism not just in Hampton Roads but the United States.

“It’s embedded into our laws, our policies, our culture, our economy. It’s important for us to come together to look at ways to have racially equitable outcomes,” said Oden.

The event will come more than a week after the mass shooting of Black grocery shoppers at a store in Buffalo, New York. The shooting has been called a hate crime.

Oden says having conversations like this, especially during times like these, can help better the region.

“If we don’t, things happen and lives are threatened. People are not able to thrive in our community,” she said.

The event will be moderated by Jonathan C. Zur, the president and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

The panelists include Dr. Khiara Bridges, who is a professor of Law at the University of California-Berkley School of Law and Wendell Taylor, managing partner DC, at Hunton Andrews Kurth.

Oden hopes people will attend the event to not only learn but also share their own lived experiences.

To register for the event, click here.