“How to Get Americans to Talk About Race” is a recent article in The Atlantic that details a powerful community-based process for facilitating productive conversations about race. Reverend Sylvester Turner is the director of reconciliation programs for Hope in the Cities. He notes that there are a number of reasons why we don’t like to discuss race:
One is that most people don’t know how to talk about it. The other thing is, people are ignorant to the systemic nature of it. Another reason is the privilege that has come as a byproduct of it, that ‘I don’t have to talk about it.’ A major reason is guilt and shame that people carry, which is what I call the byproduct or legacy of it. And some people just think it’s not worth talking about. They just want to move on. When you start peeling back the layers of it, there are often people in power who don’t want to give up their power, or they don’t want the threat of losing their power. So there’s a number of different reasons why people don’t want to talk about it, but guilt and shame and ignorance to me have been the reasons that always rise to the top when you bring people together.
If we want to improve as a society we need to have these difficult conversations.