Cross-posted at Love Isn’t Enough.

Jay Smooth, of Ill Doctrine, recent gave an excellent Tedx talk at Hampshire College about the difficulties of talking constructively about race and racism in the U.S. These conversations are tricky to navigate because they often devolve from discussions about structural inequalities and the consequences of certain positions or policies to individualistic arguments about whether a specific person is racist. As he points out, this backs people into corners. Because people are extremely defensive at anything they see as an accusation they are racist, there is little room to listen to someone who challenges a comment, and perhaps then acknowledge that a statement was hurtful, or based on incorrect information, or connects to larger cultural discourses and structural inequalities that we might want to examine critically.

It’s a great 11-minute video on how we might try to discuss race, and racism, constructively:

Also see Jay’s video on boundaries in mixed-race communities and Brother Ali talking about White rappers and the “n word.”