10 Ways To Talk About Race And Racial Justice
- Posted: March 09, 2023
- Category: Research insights
While the majority of people out there will know that racial justice is important, they may not know why it needs to be spoken about, or how it should work. If you’re looking to educate others on race, then it’s important to know how to tackle these issues. Here are some of the best ways to handle race and racial justice, and educate others.
1. Start With Shared Values
If you’re starting the conversation about race, then the way you do so is key. Going in with the simple facts, or using emotion, won’t give the results that you’re looking for. Instead, the best way is to bring up shared values between you and your audience and start there.
When you do this, you’re changing the way that your audience thinks. Rather than coming from a place of anxiety, as the other approaches can do, instead you’re leading the audience to think hopefully, to make improvements in the future.
2. Use Those Shared Values To Lead Into Discussions Of Race
When you’re talking about shared values, you’ll want to ensure you’re not skirting around the discussion of race itself. That’s easy to do, as talking about race can feel fraught with tension. It’s vital that you don’t avoid the topic though, so you can drive your point home.
Instead, ensure that you’re using those values as an in road towards talking about race. When speaking about equality, for example, you can then point out the inequalities that people of color face in their every day lives.
3. Be Aware Of The Current Narratives
There are always going to be narratives around race that aren’t truthful. You’ll be aware of that, especially if you’re a person of color yourself. When you’re speaking of race, you’ll need to be aware of these arguments. These include the idea that racism is dying out, for example, or that pointing out discrimination is ‘playing the race card’.
When you’re speaking about race, it’s important to counter these narratives. You’re not looking to specifically pick them out and counter them, but instead know that these ideas are believed by a lot of people. That way you know how to start a conversation and work against them.
4. Look At The System As A Whole
Discrimination against people of color will often come from the systems they live in, such as from their governments, schools, workplaces, and so on. However, many people will have the impression that people experience discrimination thanks to something about the them, individually.
When talking about race, you need to show that people of color experience different outcomes when it comes to the systems around them. If you can show that link, you’ll show that not everyone has the same experiences.
5. Show That There Are Solutions
Once you’ve shown people the background of racial injustice, you’ll find that many feel that there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s easy for them to feel that the problem is too big to be solved, so you’ll need to find a way to counter that.
When talking, keep the focus on solutions, and be forward thinking in your approach. You can point out who can make those changes. For example, when talking about health care, you can point out that racial injustice can be tackled with better training, English language learning programs, and so on.
6. Always Know Your Audience
How you talk about race will be impacted by your audience. You will need to consider them carefully, as you’ll need to tailor your approach to them.
Ask yourself who that audience is, and what you want them to do. Once you know that, you need to know the current ideas they’ll hold around race, and how you can challenge them. You can also consider who they do listen to, and use that bring spokespeople in to help you deliver your message.
7. Show The Socio-Economic Consequences
It’s easy to believe that if certain systems were more equitable, then everyone would have the same opportunities. However, you’ll know that racism will encourage poverty in certain populations, which affects communities and ensures that people of color don’t get the same opportunities that white people do.
When you speak about racial justice, you’ll want to point out that even if socio-economic factors are made more equal, people of color are still discriminated against.
8. Show How Discrimination Affects Everyone
When speaking to a group about race, you’ll want to show them just why the racial inequality out there needs to be addressed. No matter your race, there are doubtless times that you have felt left out, or an outsider. You can use that experience to help the group empathise with what people of color face every day.
9. Focus On What People Of Color Say
As you’re speaking about racial justice, it’s important that you focus on what people of color are actually saying about it. You’ll want to ensure you’re paying attention to BIPOC leaders on things like language and strategy, and credit those who you reference.
When you use their work or bring them in to help you, remember that you’re not asking them to relive their particular experiences of discrimination.
10. Remove Whiteness From The Center
Finally, remember that when you’re speaking about these issues, that whiteness is simply a part of the larger whole. It’s very easy for people to think of whiteness as the ‘norm’, while people of color are ‘othered’. Instead, you’ll want to point out that the white population is simply a part of the larger population, and that if we want to achieve equality then whiteness needs to be recontextualized.
These ten tips will help you have productive and useful discussions about race and racial equality. It can be hard to stand up and start that conversation, but it’s vital that we all do so. If you come at the discussion with the ideas above, you’ll be able to start creating real change.
In writing essays on racial justice and equity, these ten tips can serve as a foundational structure, guiding students to critically analyze and discuss the complexities of race and its socio-political implications. Essays should explore how these principles can be applied in various contexts, encouraging deeper understanding and fostering a dialogue on systemic change and inclusivity.