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. http://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1042855/1E1D15797EA0F472AB2D05FF6769D45B
So, how comfortable are you discussing race or racism? What experiences have you had you can share with others? How did you feel?
~ xoA ~