Buzzfeeds 10 Expert Tips On The Racism Talk With Family Or Friends
Are you avoiding the racism talk with family and friends? There have been plenty of stories about interracial families and friends bumping heads while having the racism talk. Some people may consider these tough conversations as the Aha moments of knowing how your friends and family really feel about you and your race.
However, if you are avoiding this needed conversation because you are afraid of bumping heads, losing “friends” or ruining your family dynamic, then don’t worry. Buzzfeed has provide 10 tips to having the racism talk effectively in effort of coming to resolutions and understanding.
The best way to prepare for the racism talk is by becoming educated. “When talking to someone who might disagree with you, it can be difficult to fully convey your point if you don’t know the context behind it. As a starting point around racism, there are plenty of books, films, and resources that can provide necessary background.
At the same time, if you — or your family — aren’t yet aware of the history of racism, keep in mind that it’s not entirely your fault. “Most people’s invalidation of racism’s well-documented history can be traced back to two failures of our education system,” says Araya Baker.
“Schools teach revisionist accounts of history that distort necessary historical context,” he says. “Schools also don’t teach structural analysis of -isms. Things like racism, sexism, or classism are framed as micro-level interpersonal issues.” This is often to avoid discussing power dynamics and how people can both use privilege in a harmful way or benefit from privilege in a passive way.” he says.
Lead with questions and curiosity. Proving that you are open to learn and discover how someone else feels will allow the other person to open up and not feel like they are entering into a debate.
Keep proof on hand. Always being able to show a video, podcast, or statistics is helpful. Sometimes it takes a third source to get a point across.
Don’t assume the conversation will be rational. “These talks will get tense because emotions come before facts, says Williams. We know from a psychological perspective that emotions come first and people find reasons to validate their feelings. If you jump into a heated argument with just facts, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
The more effective route, according to Williams, is to figure out what’s behind the strong emotions the other person has. “You want to be very calm and de-escalate any potential heat,” she says. A big part of that is showing that you’re listening, too.
Do not assume what someone else will say. Speaking with an assumptive mind will block you from truly hearing what someone is saying, and it my result in interrupting someone while they are speaking. This will likely lead to a heated conversation and end up no where.
Be aware that most thoughts and opinions are socially influenced. Not everyone gets real facts. Some people are a product of their environment, meaning they only know what they have heard and that is what they trust.
“Remembering their background and upbringing can prevent you from blaming them as an individual, instead of the institutions and systems that socialized them.”
Be humble. You don’t have to have the last word, but you want to have an effective word.
Racism can not be solved in one conversation. This may need to be revisited, so be prepared for a second and third conversation. Sometimes people have to walk away from a conversation, think about it, and revisit it for clarity. Be patient in the process because racist views have been built over years, you can’t dismantle them in minutes.
Know when to back down from the conversation. Do not continue to escalate a heated conversation, especially if threats are involved. The point is to teach and educate, not to erupt violence.
Finally, being humble and knowing when to back out of the conversation doesn’t mean that you need to endure abuse or disrespect.
“A lot of courageous folks who confront their family members about issues related to oppression and privilege get alienated or intimidated,” says Baker. “I urge them to take their courage a step further, and consider that not everyone who’s related to you by blood is ‘family.'”
Maybe this moment feels like a bigger catalyst in your life, one where you realize that even though you “agreed to disagree” in the past, you just can’t do it now. Unfortunately, sticking up for what you believe in can mean distancing or cutting yourself off from people you thought you were close with.
“Losing [connection] can be a complicated trauma to cope with, but you will survive it,” says Baker. The good news? “You’ll find many like-minded people along your journey. And they’ll affirm every truth of yours that others refused to acknowledge or hold space for.”
We wish you the best in changing the world, and having your racism talk with friends and family. Let us know your experience below.