One question that many groups in the Not In Our Town network grapple with is, How do we have the hard conversations? In other words, how do we talk about systemic racism, white supremacy and privilege, and microaggressions that occur every day in our neighborhoods?
In the wake of unrest in Ferguson, MO, where a white police office fatally shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown, the need for these conversations are long overdue. Here are two perspectives on developing constructive discussions in your towns.
"I Am a Racist"
“An Invitation to Conversation.” Excerpt from American Family: Things Racial
[N]one of us is free of the corrosive effects of racism. Talking about racism may be challenging, but it need not be onerous or terrifying. ... [T]he first step is admitting that each of us is a racist in our own way. Far from a statement of self-blame, “I am a racist” is a powerful learning stance, because from it we can ask ourselves, What am I assuming here that may not be serving me, us or the situation?
Danger? Or Discomfort?
“An Important Lesson White People Must Learn if They’re Serious About Fighting Racism,” Alternet
There’s no such thing as absolute safety or absolute comfort when it comes to fighting racism by using your own body and mind to break down the physical barriers and social boundaries that separate our communities and prevent us from claiming each other as friends, neighbors, allies, people who belong to each other and who belong to the community together. Though, that’s okay. Discomfort forces us to make a choice: we can retreat back to the familiar and maintain the status quo, which is a white supremacist status quo in America, or we can advance and be brave as we battle our collective racist demons.
How do you have the hard conversations in your town?