Glenn Bigonet, M.A.
Social Activist for Racial Equity
Facilitating Discussions about Racism
Tips For Discussing Racism
"Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the
response to error that counts."
Having conversations about racism is always challenging and can easily escalate and blow up creating tremendous discomfort and sometimes ending relationships. This is one reason why so many of us avoid having them but avoiding having them in the end leaves systemic racism unchecked allowing for continued harm to people of color. Having a solid plan about how to have such a conversation and what to do if it starts to go wrong can greatly increase the chances of an exchange that creates expansion and healing.
There is typically two distinct types of conversations around racism 1)Addressing a racist act or racial harm, and 2) Repairing the damage of a racial act or racial harm. Although the guidlines for each type of conversation are similar I will address them separately to allow for the nuances of each conversation.
Ijeoma Oluo gives a detailed list of guidelines on how to initiate a conversation addressing a racial act or racial harm. They are as follows(p. 45-48):
Robin DiAngelo discusses in depth her guidelines for creating a conversation for repair in her book White Fragility(p.145-146). They are as follows:
I'd like to add to both these sets of guidelines with a few of my own. Go into each conversation prepared for it to go wrong and know that you will many times slip up and make a mistake making the converstation harder. This is inevitable. When it happens pause, take a step back and notice what went wrong and address it as soon as you are able. You may be able to do this in the moment or you may need to put the conversation on hold until you are able to calm down, figure things out and restart from a fresh place. When things go wrong be gentle of yourself and gentle on the other. These are hard conversations and things are going to go wrong. Getting down on yourself or the other will only make things get worse. Remember, we are all human and we all make mistakes. All we can do is learn from our mistakes, do our best to clean up after them and move on.
|Copyright © 2020 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.|