How to Talk to People About Race
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How to Talk to People About Race

Talking about race can be hard. Structuring your conversation can make it easier

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How to Talk to People About Race

Talking about race can be hard sometimes. It's both a personal topic as well as seemingly political and taboo topic. Because of this, in my opinion, to have a productive conversation about race, we need to structure our conversations in a particular way. I understand this can't always be done as race can be an emotional topic and those emotions are valid. I am merely giving suggestions from my personal and academic experience in regard to communicating about difficult topics.

I think the first step to having a productive conversation about race is ensuring that both parties are open or willing to be open. It is impossible to have a productive conversation with someone if they're not open to hearing and understanding your views and feelings. Please keep in mind that this openness is a two-way street. Even if the person you're talking to about race is incredibly ignorant, it is still important and necessary to try to be open and understanding of that person's views. More often than not, when people feel they're being heard and understood as opposed to judged and ridiculed, they are more willing to be open to your points. This is incredibly difficult to do, especially if you have strong emotional ties to your views, so please only attempt to do this if you have the mental energy to do so. Your health and wellbeing come first as it is not your job to educate people about race. Also, please keep in mind that you can only control your actions. If the the person you are talking to is not being open to you despite you being open to them, there's no point in continuing the conversation and it is not worth your time.

After approaching the topic with an open and understanding mind, the next step is to continue the conversation in the role of a patient teacher. In that role of the teacher, your job is not to change their opinion or views. Your job is to get them to UNDERSTAND your points and views and THEY have to put in the work to change their views and opinions on their own. This means that initially, the conversation might not go well. It is up to them to do the work internally as well as gather additional research so they can truly change their views. It can be a humbling experience for many people to realize that their views were ignorant or racists, so please try not to take their defensiveness personally.

Lastly, please remember that these conversations are a gift. Make it clear to the person you are talking to that you do not have to have this conversation with them. You are choosing to do so because you either care about them enough to show them their errors and/or you have been in their shoes before and you know how it feels to hold ignorant views.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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