By: Alia Hoyt Jun 29, But this topic can be a minefield when discussed between people of different ethnic backgrounds. Jennifer Johnson of Americus, Georgia, who is white, remembers a conversation she had with a Black friend after Trayvon Martin died.
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I had a gun pulled on me once by a cop and I didn't much care for the feeling but for her it is more than fear, it is panic. Johnson reached out to her friend after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis to apologize for being slow to come around, which her friend accepted with joy. That conversation ended positively.
But often people are afraid to even begin to have the talk. I don't want to offend anyone," says Holly name changed in Atlanta, who is white. Her worries are compounded, she says, by the fact that some people call out others on social media for not speaking up about racial injustice. But Amisha Harding, an Atlanta-based activist and founder of Courageous Conversations for the Collectivefinds her concern actually heartwarming.
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That said, it would be beneficial to the racial justice movement if Holly and others like her could find the will to engage in conversations to learn and make change. It's been the elephant in the room," explains Dr. Courtland Leea professor in the Counselor Education Program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and an expert on multicultural counseling.
Harding understands the fear of speaking up in the current climate. But for that to work, people on both ends of the conversation need to be open, receptive and patient.
We need them to show up and lift their voices. No matter who's involved in the conversation, here are some helpful guidelines for keeping charged conversations constructive. Racial issues have always been hot-button, but there's an added edge right now. What are you hoping to gain from such a conversation?
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Are your intentions helpful? Productive, or just the opposite? If you go into a conversation, social media post, text thread with an agenda that isn't positive or open-minded, chances are good that the resulting dialogue won't be that way, either.
Basically, say what's on your mind. White people shouldn't hesitate to ask for insight to issues they don't understand, either. I've never experienced this.
I don't freak out when I get pulled over by a police officer for speeding, I don't understand the fear that Black people have. Can you tell me why you're so afraid?
He notes that white people are often afraid to refer to people as "Black," even though it's not a negative or condescending descriptor. They can't say the word 'Black.
No matter how good the intentions, a white person is never going to fully understand what it's like to be a person of color. So, don't try to normalize the other person's experiences or apply your own situation. This really pisses people off," Lee says. This might be the most important point. But don't just half-listen while planning your rebuttal.
If you listen you'll find that you can actually have a real conversation. With your ears, but with your heart, too. Even if you can't fully comprehend the other person's situation, it is important to validate them.
Accept it for what it is," Lee says, adding that you can't interpret it or apply it to your own worldview. Lee says. Don't right away become defensive and defend your culture. That's why a lot of these conversations don't go anywhere, Lee notes.
Rather than listening, people shut down and adopt a defensive posture.
Harding recalls being at a protest march for racial justice and seeing a white woman holding a that said we should all be colorblind. I said, 'Thank you for being out here and being an ally… I want to commit to you as a Black woman, that I'm happy to talk to you about your experience and help you to develop understanding. I could have said, 'That is offensive. Few complex issues are thoroughly understood or resolved after one conversation, but each one is a step in the right direction.
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If done correctly and with respect, at the end of the talk both people might not totally get each other's positions, but they'll be in a better place to continue the talk later. If it does deteriorate on the opposite end, don't be too distraught over the loss of friendship, Lee advises. It's important for white people to learn from people of color, but that's not the only place to turn. Lectures and videos can be accessed there.
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Conservations that deal with matters of race can be sticky, but also very rewarding and productive. Now That's Cool. Cite This! More Awesome Stuff.