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1000 Cut Journey VR Experience

What would it take for you to accept that we still live in a world where the color of someone’s skin can get them killed, passed over for a job, denied a loan, denied housing, denied a fair shot? What would it take for the reports of black bodies being gunned down by police to register as a pattern of racism, not merely insubordination or criminality?

What would it take for the outcries of racial injustice to register not as a sensitivity or a card to be played but as an unacceptable social reality? What would it take for the data you see and that you say you “get”; what would it take for you to feel the reality behind the data?

–Dr. Courtney Cogburn

What if you could literally walk in another person’s shoes? Dr. Courtney Cogburn’s racial immersion VR experience, 1000-Cut Journey, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. Developed in collaboration with Jeremy Bailenson, professor of communications at Stanford University and founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, it highlights the social realities of racism. Understanding the social realities of racism is critical to promoting effective and collective social action. 1000-Cut Journey allows for the viewer to experience life as a Black man, from adolescence through adulthood, and has been featured on TEDx, CBS, and Forbes. This project builds on Dr. Cogburn’s research and examines how virtual reality can induce empathy for people different from oneself and be used powerfully in training situations for inclusion.

The target audience for 1000 Cut Journey is self-identified white liberals who are most likely to espouse beliefs of racial equality but may lack understanding of what that really means in terms of lived experiences of racism. There is an increasing body of research which suggests that true systemic change cannot be achieved unless the real pain of oppression is addressed, not just in its extreme forms but its everyday forms.

Dr. Cogburn’s 1000 Cut Journey VR experience is an integrated approach via experience, presentation and group discussion. It confronts the significance of race, explores the root and structural causes of racism and helps organizational leaders see the point of action and apply structural analysis to issues of race within their organization.

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