Oklahoma man develops device to fight racism in unusual way

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A local man is hoping to fight racism in an unusual way.

He's using virtual reality to help people experience what it's like to be the target of racial anger.

“Imagine if you want to, a box or a cube the size of a telephone booth,” said Ian Okuden.

When you go inside the gray box, you’re introduced to a different world.

“You walk in and there are three very large monitors, you're surrounded. And all of a sudden when you close the door, there's a crowd, an angry crowd, an angry mob around you,” said Okuden.

It's a world that unfortunately some Americans experience even today.

“They're yelling violent racial epithets around you,” Okuden said.

Okuden created BRIDGE, the acronym stands for bias reducing implemental device to grow empathy. He thinks it can bridge a gap of understanding between police and some minority communities.

“So the idea is to put you in their shoes. To actually give you the experience of what that kind of pressure, what that emotional experience is like,” he said.

It was an experience all too familiar for Sean Braddy, who volunteered to go inside the box.

“You hear things that you heard in school,” said Braddy.

The device recorded Braddy’s response, which he said could be illuminating for people who has never been targeted for the color of their skin.

“You know, you've heard it before, and it's like have I become numb to it, or will I get into the car and remember when so and so said that at school or I remember when this person said at work,” Braddy said.

For those who want to try out the experience, BRIDGE will be on display Saturday at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church at 11:30 a.m.

Several local police departments will also be present to try it out as well.