The difficult and often uncomfortable conversations about race have never been more important than it is today. These conversations can bring awareness to those who are unaware of their implicit bias, and if done right, it can lead to a deeper understanding of what racial equality means in our society and the world. To have constructive dialogues about racial justice, we must practice empathy and love through a Christ-like perspective. By practicing understanding, patience, humility and grace, we can create a safe space for open dialogue that will foster growth and acceptance. Through these practices, we can come closer to having success with social justice conversations on issues such as racial equality, hate crimes, gun violence, racial identity, race and poverty.
1. Understand the Subjective Nature of Racism.
One of the most important aspects of race is that it can be difficult to objectively measure or define what racism is because people experience it in different ways and for different reasons. For example, some people may feel that they have experienced more instances of racism than others because their skin color or culture makes them a minority in their country (“In America…”). Although many view racism as being about power dynamics between races (gaining or losing), others may feel that negative experiences with people of other races is not related to race or culture. A study on “race and racism” conducted by the European Social Survey found that many people view racism as a personal experience, rather than an institutional one (“The Concise Introduction to Racism”). This results in a large variation between different groups of people in how they define what constitutes racism.
2. Understand Different Types of Racism.
One form of racism, overt racism, is defined by the dictionary as “a belief or action that maintains there are innate differences among human racial groups, and that one’s own racial group has an inherent superiority”. Overt racism is the most well-known form of racism in society because people see it as blatant, and it has been linked to discrimination and violence.
3. Understand Racial Identity.
Racism is often directly tied to racial identity and what it means to be a person of color. What are the different types of racial identities, and how do they affect people?
4. Understand Why Racism Occurs.
Racism is a social process that can occur in many different situations, including during conflicts between groups, when individuals make judgments based on group membership, and when stereotypes are used as part of social processes (i.e., racism occurs when people believe a certain race is inferior).
5. Be Aware of Your Own Racial Bias.
When it comes to matters such as how the media treats people of different racial identities, what privileges are available to certain groups, and how racism is experienced in different contexts, we all can have racial biases.
6. Learn How To Fight Racism.
It is important to recognize when racism is occurring, understand the history of racism and its effects on individuals and societies, and know how to fight against it.
7. Reconcile Racial Identities.
Racial identifications are often in conflict due to misunderstandings about each other’s histories/experiences/ideas/lifestyles8. Be Aware of Historical RacismThe history of race has been a long one marked by violence, unethical experimentation, and exploitation as well as by compassion, empathy and love.The history of slavery and its impact is a vast subject which cannot be covered here in its entirety.
Does this sound like a lot of work? YES! because it is. Just remember that your counterparts don’t get a break or vacation from the racism that they experience on a daily basis so the FIRST part of being able to treat your counterparts with empathy and love is to educate yourself.