Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Friday, October 2, 2015

Conversations about Race: Let’s Talk!

Ever have a difficult situation or conversation about race or racism come up at work or at a meeting? How about in your classroom? Or in your home or car when kids are interacting? How comfortable do you feel participating in these conversations?

Over 300 of us “met” this week on Teaching Tolerance’s webinar, “Let’s Talk!,” a program designed to instruct about handling difficult conversations. It was billed for teachers and school personnel, but I found many aspects of the presentation appropriate for anyone.

One thing the moderator suggested was to assess our own comfort level concerning dealing with conversations about race and racism. In a poll of the group, she asked us to designate True, False, or Sometimes regarding the following statements:
1.   I am comfortable talking about race/racism   (T - F - S)
2.   I would rather not talk about race/racism. (T - F - S)
3.   I feel prepared to talk about race/racism. (T - F - S)

Then the moderator asked us to finish the next two sentence stems:
1)   The hard part about talking about race/racism is . . .
2)   The beneficial part of talking about race/racism is . . .

Fingers flew and answers bolted upward like scattered birds as participants’ responses bombarded the Group Chat window. Some expressed fear of misspeaking, sounding racist, or doing harm. Others mentioned benefits such as empowerment, validation, and providing a voice for all ideas, feelings, and points of view. 

We can’t NOT hold these difficult conversations about race and racism if we want to provide an opportunity for understanding, tolerance, and acceptance on everyone's part. 

Additionally, the techniques and tools modeled in the webinar could apply to conversations about any difficult subject -- religious differences, anti-LGBTQ issues, and ableism, to name a few.  

None of us has all the answers, but we can prepare, learning more by studying history and current events. We can lean in, finding comfort in discomfort and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We can learn how to manage situations in which strong emotions are expressed.

Teaching Tolerance’s webinar includes a helpful downloadable resource guide that contains grade level appropriate strategies for classrooms, valuable resources, and graphic organizers.

And one of the best parts? It’s still available to everyone. You can view the one-hour webinar online. Below is the link to Let’s Talk!, which is now offered on-demand with accompanying resources.

So, how comfortable are you discussing race or racism? What experiences have you had you can share with others? How did you feel?

~ xoA ~


  1. I recently befriended a wonderful, loving, amazing black man. We have traveled together this year and I have, at times, been concerned about how we would be or have been received. Others' thoughts have not been a concern, but reactions and disrespect for us, as a mixed racial couple, was what I expected. To my shock and surprise, I had encountered none unti my 82 year old mother and my daughter, assuming we have become romantically involved, have given me a great deal of grief! Never saying anything about his race, but I know it is a huge issue for them both. Not what I ever expected from family! All I can do is love them and show them the love I have for them and live the life I love! Racism is still alive in some people's minds, I'm just glad it doesn't live in me!

    1. It's always a shock when folks whom we least expect it show racist behavior. I usually wonder what's behind it. Often it's ignorance or fear. When people don't know or are unfamiliar with any group, they may act differently than we expect. Or, when they are afraid for some reason. Often the fear is unfounded and based on the "not knowing".

      I believe you have the right idea: love them and show them your love -- and live your life. Like you said earlier today, we can only control ourselves.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Shirley. This is the kind of thing I had hoped would happen as a result of these blogs.

      Love you, girl. xoA