In speaking about the issue of racism in America, Miles McPherson in his
book The Third Option says:
“When it comes to addressing racism in America, not enough is said, so
not enough is done. A lack of interracial dialogue about racism prevents
real change from happening. However, engaging in such a conversation
can be threatening. We will not find our way out of the racism maze until
we learn to participate in honoring conversations about race.”
If engaging in dialogue about race is essential to dealing with the issue
culturally, how do we arrive at such conversations? Here are five keys to
encourage and embolden you to initiate honoring conversations on race:
(1) Acknowledge the reality that you’re always having a race conversation in
your head. Whether it is intentional or not, you are reading past
experiences, new expectations, etc. into your encounters. It is okay to
acknowledge what is going on. Remember, the race conversation in your
head will not stay there.
(2) Honor others by allowing them to self-disclose. Intercept the possibility
of prejudging by asking questions that allow a person to reveal who they
are to you. Allow them to confirm or challenge any preconceptions by
listening to their story.
(3) Take every opportunity to enlighten. Look at each new encounter as an
opportunity to grow in your knowledge of people. Again, ask questions.
Explore the unknown. Bring the undisclosed to light so that you can
know and be known.
(4) Practice by just having a conversation. The only way you will learn about
others is to have the conversations. So, sit down for a cup of coffee, and
start to talk. Ask about their experiences. Share yours. Identify areas of
commonality, and places of difference. Celebrate unique diversity that
God has placed in each of you. Start in familiar environments.
(5) Set clear boundaries. Are certain words off limits? Are there sensitive
areas that are not open? Make those roadblocks clear to one another.
Respect one another’s safety zones.