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How to have important conversations about race | blog

Expert Tips for Successfully Developing This Topic With Your Family, Friends, And Colleagues.

The protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing have been an exercise in telling the truth and demanding accountability from the authorities. But how do we tell the truth to each other? How should we discuss race and other important topics with the people around us, from our children to our colleagues? We have collected some suggestions from reliable and experienced experts.

In this article:

Have children? Start with them

Children are perceptive, often more than we think. For example, some studies suggest that infants who are young and as young as six months old have some perception of ethnic difference. This is especially influential as your children get older and start consuming more media, including books and TV shows, where they will inevitably encounter characters of all kinds, with varying degrees of diversity and representation. (Think of the racial diversity of the human characters on Sesame Street versus, say, that of the princesses of the Disney kingdom.) Perhaps the easiest way to discuss race with your children is to use moments and questions that come up naturally and turn them into what teachers calls "teachable moments." Of course, how you do this depends on your child's age.

Children under 5

Young children will notice and point out physical differences between people. While your gut reaction may be to downplay such differences, UNICEF recommends that parents do the opposite. When your child finds that someone looks different, you use it as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate physical difference while emphasizing which physical difference does not tell us – that is, who is as a person. Explain to your child that yes, people from different parts of the world (or people whose parents / ancestors come from different parts of the world) look different from each other, but that does not mean they will be nice or mean, funny or serious, and so on.

Dealing with racism – as opposed to race – is more fulfilling. UNICEF proposes to discuss racism when it comes to justice, which is a concept that children learn from a young age. For example, if you talk about Rosa Parks, a young child may understand the injustice of a woman being arrested for sitting on the bus because of her skin color.

UNICEF proposes to discuss racism with young children in terms of justice, which is a concept that children learn from a young age.

Children 6 and up

The concept of justice still resonates as children get older; what changes is that they become better at describing emotions and expressing their view of the world. Start by finding out what they already know or think and use it as a jumping off point. In a Buzzfeed article, Erin Winkler, an associate professor of African studies and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recommended that parents be prepared to try to understand and engage with their child's mindset instead of turning it off. For example, if your child says something that strikes you as biased, start by asking why they think so, before they get into why it is problematic.

Older children will also have an increasing exposure to the media, which can be traumatic today, as developmental behavior pediatrician Dr. Jenny Radesky noted on CNN. Radesky says parents should take the time to discuss and explain what their children have seen, and should remember that even a child with a lot of screen time may need help analyzing what they have been exposed to. A child who has seen pictures of a protest and does not understand what the protest is about may just "worry about a burning van or a scary person in a mask" unless they have the broader context explained by a parent

No matter how old your child is, remember that they will follow your actions as much as your words. If you want your child to both recognize racism and practice anti-racism, you must embody these values ​​in your everyday words and actions.

Talk to Adult Family Members

Your children are at least somewhat obligated to listen to you, but the rest of your family is not, so how do you talk to them about race (or, for that matter, other important issues)?

Start Small

America's values ​​have changed over time, but you may still have older relatives with some "outdated" ideas that motivate discussion. If so, be aware that you are trying to change the habits of life. "The longer you talk, the more frustrated you can become," psychologist Alfiee Breland-Noble, a doctoral student, told Refinery 29. So you should keep the initial conversations short and prepare for the long haul.

Do your homework [19659009] Regardless of the subject, you will move on if you can show that your ideas are not just concepts you came up with on your own. You should not lead with the facts you have Google – no one likes to be lectured – but you should have some information on hand if needed as a backup. Perhaps something similar to this study from North Carolina State University which shows that prospective teachers were more likely to experience anger on black faces than whites. Or this well-researched New York Times article on race-based income inequality in America. Or our own article on why the racial wealth gap exists (and what you can do about it). Or you can use one of these nine humorous (but deadly serious) conversation points from Vox as a way to start talking about the importance of Black Lives Matter (both the movement and the idea).

Explaining Why It Matters

In an interesting interview with NPR, Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race, mentions that if you will convince someone to discuss something that can be challenging, "it is important to indicate why you have this call "in First Place. Base the conversation on something specific, fast or personal – "I have this conversation because this is happening in our city, and I need you to join me in action," or "I feel that when you say these things about race, it distances me from you ”- can help you engage your family in a more meaningful way.

Do not assume the worst …

When Emma Levine, assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, gave Time magazine some expert tips on potentially awkward conversations, an important piece of advice was not to assume that they will be difficult in the first place.If you enter into a conversation with a negative attitude and expect the worst, you can consciously create that result.If you enter into a conversation with an open mind, it can still be a kat astrophore – but at least you know your attitude was not wrong.

… But be ready for it

The thing about challenging conversations is that they are, well, challenging. So think of something that Breland-Noble said in that article Refinery 29: “In general, we can not 'dump' our family members. But we can definitely decide how much or how little we get involved. “If you think the conversation turns to personal and painful attacks, remember that you can end it too.

Bases the conversation on something specific, fast or personal – "I have this conversation because it's happening in our city, and I need you to join me in action," or "I feel that when you say these things about race, it distances me from you "- can help you engage your family in a more meaningful way.

Say "I" More Than "You"

Beverly Tatum, author of "Why Do All Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race," has suggested that people refer to their own discoveries about race when they For example, if a relative thinks that racial police brutality is not a problem, you might "respond by saying that there was a time when you may have felt that way, but then you found out how often these acts of violence happen. to black people. “By emphasizing your own development and the fact that you once had the same doubts, you are proposing a kind of inclusion instead of marking them as ignorant or incorrect.

Also as Ken Sereno, an associate professor of communication at the University of Southern California-Annenberg, told Time, "The moment you use words like 'you did or said this' or 'you are this', the person automatically becomes defensive."

Avoid General Shame (General)

As Jenna Arnold, author of "Raise Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Tough Conversations, Begin to Accept Responsibility, and Find Our Place in the New Frontlines," USA Today reported, " the first human answer to prevent shame is defense, "so if you call someone in public, they will go into" ego-based survival mode "instead of listening to you. You can also damage your relationship. So if you think you need to have a conversation with someone, you can try to find a private moment.

Of course, the situation just can not wait. For example, if you are with a group of people and someone says or does something offensive, it is advisable to point it out when it happens. Your family (and as we mention below, your friends) is your community and communities have standards formed through discussion. Sometimes these discussions have to be robust.

Re: The family you choose, even your friends.

They say that friends are the family you choose. Therefore, for the most part, everything we said above about your family also applies to your friends. That said, remember that friends can also be chosen. If these conversations reveal that you and your friend (s) do not share the same values ​​that you thought you did, you may need to consider whether your friendship can continue.

Talk to Colleagues and Employees

Much of the previous advice applies to colleagues as well as friends and family (and we have some more advice on race and the workplace here), but there are some work-specific considerations. First, you probably can not tell your colleague that he is an idiot, as you can with a friend, but you can also not call HR if one of your uncles is not in line. So …

Maybe you need to talk to the boss

If someone in your workplace behaves in a way that is discriminatory against others and you think it is unintentional, you can take them aside and let them know. But if you think you are working with a straight racist whose behavior affects others where you work, you should talk to a boss or someone in human relationships. It is important to remember that racism at work is a problem for the whole company, and it should be taken seriously through official channels.

Of course we are all learning right now, and an important distinction is the difference between what can be considered non-racist and something that is anti-racist. One goal of these conversations should be to normalize being anti-racist and to utter language or actions that are not necessarily discriminatory, but also do not promote the goal of anti-racism. An example might be to use a term that is outdated or can be considered insensitive. Giving feedback that this is no longer acceptable – and doing so in a safe, thoughtful way – is a necessary part of making progress.

Or maybe you are the boss

White managers may want to ask their black colleagues and employees if there are things that can make their business a better place for people of color to work. In an interview with entreprenör.com, Bernard Boudreaux, who worked for Target for 30 years and is deputy director of Georgetown's Business for Impact program, suggests asking employees in color to talk anonymously about their experiences (perhaps through a series of open-ended questions). This can do a lot to improve the corporate culture when it comes to race. Questions may include what the company can do better to address racism in the workplace; what experiences they have had within the company, if any, that made them feel that race was a factor; or if there are business practices – either macro or micro – that they believe contribute to racist behavior or attitudes.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, we must have these conversations not because they are simple, but because they are difficult. If there was any doubt before the George Floyd-inspired protests, it is no doubt clear now that the deep pain of systemic racism in America is still far from healed. Talking openly and sincerely about race, regardless of your skin color (but perhaps especially if you are white and have had the benefit of avoiding the subject), is an important first step toward addressing and resolving that pain. Just remember: Actions speak louder than words, so these conversations remain just a first step. There are many steps that will continue after that.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our content is created for educational purposes. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life does not have the right to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not rely on tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own taxes or legal attorneys.

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