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Talking about race, easier

Stanford University's online toolkit, designed to make talking about race and what it means, a lot easier

Yesterday, while doing some reading, I came across an article talking about a toolkit developed by researchers at Stanford University's DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) scholars, working in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) along with Stanford SPARQ, an organization that aims to reduce social inequities with some insight from behavioral science. I decided to take a closer look, and was pleasantly surprised.

We all know that discussing the concept of race, either in the classroom or the workplace, is difficult for people. Biases get in the way, people misunderstand each other- leading to hurt feelings and making people weary of even bringing it up, causing them to miss the opportunity to educate themselves on the topic, and understand what race means for all of us, not only BIPOC.

Historically, we've dealt with these problems by either ignoring them, separating ourselves from the ones we consider "different" to us, or denying these issues exist altogether, and that has affected how we relate to each other to this day. It is important for us to talk about it openly, to teach our children that the mistakes and way of thinking our ancestors had or the way they treated BIPOC, however horrible and uncomfortable it may feel for us, need to be acknowledged and discussed as to never repeat them again, addressing our biases and misconceptions about the topic along the way, and addressing the need for correcting what's not being truthfully portrayed or taught.

Pretending that our ancestors were perfect people, and dismissing the cry from BIPOC for a better retelling of our history and how things started in this country, only perpetuates the problem. This kind of dialogue could change us, as a country- and in a more personal level, could help us understand what other people have to live with every day of their lives, for the experiences BIPOC have are never identical, and we all can have biases we are not aware of.

The researchers developed this compilation of videos, educational activities and evidence based frameworks in the hope that individuals use it to discuss the topic, feeling better prepared to talk about it in a way that encourages understanding and opens people to a dialogue about the problem of racism, and what it means to BIPOC. In the words of the executive director at CCSRE, Daniel Murray, "we can only begin to confront racism and drive action in support of real change, when people have the vocabulary and tools needed to engage and make better decisions. If we're going to change how we talk about race, we need easy access to resources and tools that will help reshape how people think about race in the first place". Indeed.

This free racial literacy digital toolkit is called RaceWorks, and was introduced March 4th, 2020. To learn more about it, visit here, or watch some of the many videos that are on their site. The first step in the series leads you to "Are You Ready To Talk" , an activity that helps you by providing strategies on how to explore differences with people in your life, in order to facilitate conversations among others and be able to lead other activities, such as "Beyond The Line" an expansion to an existing activity already being performed by schools called "Cross the line", that is used to educate children about diversity, inclusion and bullying. These activities sometimes take hours, and are designed for groups of people, but they are very informational and worth exploring, even if only for personal enrichment and learning.

We are experiencing a need to speak about these issues, to bring them out and educate others about our experiences with discrimination and the need for systemic change. We can see this happening all around us. All that change starts with understanding what needs to be done by talking to each other, and coming up with solutions together. We all deserve a place at the table, but we need to be able to walk through the doors without hindrances due to the way we look, our culture, or how we decide to express ourselves, first.

Being able to communicate with each other effectively is indeed the first step.


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