Navigating the Difficult Topic of Race

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Few issues get as heated as race and ethnicity. There always seem to be two sides, the oppressed and the oppressor. This thought often drives people to take an attack and defensive roles. If there is anything we have learned that far and should leave in 2018, are such stances don’t bring about a productive conversation. It fosters a “them” versus “us” and drives everyone into a survival mode that even meditation classes would have a harder time eliminating. 

If you are let to dip your toes into the conversation of race with those of a different race, there are suggestions you can follow. It is understandable why most people do not have this conversation with outsiders. The chances of offense and an ensuing fight appear almost inevitable. However, the purpose of having a conversation about race should not be to defend oneself. The goal is to bring understanding. Let us explore further.

Check your mentality about the other race

If you instinctively feel that you are superior to or less than another race, do not begin any conversation about race, even with peers. Thoughts shape our words and actions. You might say politically correct things, but when your emotions get rattled, you will speak out of turn. Apart from creating offense, you will have erected barriers between yourself and the other person because of an unchecked attitude you have. 

Know your and their history

“I did not know that” is a powerful statement, and one that ought to be kept in mind at all times. It places you in a position to learn, primarily because your singular experience does not make you an expert on race, yours or theirs. With that in mind, venture out of your YouTube recommended videos on the topic and news on socials. Read from neutral channels and focus on the facts first. Avoid listening to commentaries as they form an opinion for you. Once you have the facts to do with your history that of the other person and the interaction in between, search for opposing views. 

It takes hard work, but that is what you need to be a responsible global citizen

Taking time to research about your people and their relationship to others does take time. For some, using dog filters appears to be a better use of their time. However, getting to the reason of the initial conflict between your race and theirs helps you speak out of knowledge and not emotions. Wisdom has to do with how you apply knowledge as well. As mentioned, the purpose of the dialogue should be creating an understanding and a learning experience. 

If you are in the “top tier” of whom society deems superior, do not dismiss the thoughts and feelings of minorities. Keep in mind it is not an attack on your personhood; they are merely expressing the experiences they have had, directly linked to their skin color. Due to the privileges handed to you even unknowingly, there’s plenty you can learn about what it means to be another person of a different race.