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King 5 News: Asking the Uncomfortable Questions About Race & Racism

How do we have uncomfortable conversations about race? What if we don’t know what to say around issues like social unrest, sexism, racism, ableism, etc? When we’re afraid to fail, or make mistakes, we default to inaction. To succeed in having these hard conversations, we first have to overcome the fear of failure. Watch the video HERE!

TRANSCRIPT:

We’re tackling a lot today, finance, life, loss, and even your feedback about some of the past content on this very show. So after a recent conversation that we aired about anti-racism, we received a variety of responses. Some unhappy that we covered this topic at all, others left wanting to know more, but unsure of how to ask the questions. So that is what we’re doing in this next interview. Asking the questions about race that we might not know how to ask. There will be questions that I missed, I’m sure. And you might feel that they’re more important and you’re probably right, but the bottom line is, this is a topic that has many layers. The conversation long overdue, and I am deeply grateful to Lindsey Jackson, a diversity equity and inclusion professional, for joining me in this discussion.

Lindsey, I say these questions, and I was telling you about a time that a black friend of mine recently said to me, she said, Amity, it’s not necessarily about what people say, but what they aren’t saying that is most important. And so that led me to the question of, is being silent about what’s happening with civil unrest as bad as saying something negative, and then what if you don’t know what say?

I really saw in the question when you first sent it to me, all of the multi-layers there that can be such a concern that trips up a lot of us as we’re talking about race, as we’re talking about homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc. And what I always offer to our students and clients is that great quote “all it takes for evil to prevail is when good men or women or folks do nothing”. And that really across the swath of our population, there’s a trend where because we are afraid to make mistakes, because we are afraid to get out there and risk proving that we’re not actually perfect, we sometimes default to inaction, and even more than that, we default to apathy. And I would much rather the activist, the street warrior, the social media person that’s out there making mistakes…apologizing when they do make a mistake, thinking somebody for new information that they can apply, and then continuing to be a change agent. So what your friend is pointing out, I think, is that we sometimes get stuck just wanting to do what we call optics. I just want to do the first thing that I can do to get out of this uncomfortable feeling that I’m now having when we are at the table talking about race, or, I want do whatever it is to say, That’s not me, I’m not like those people. And what your friend is pointing out is actually, we’re all like those people. We all have opportunities for growth and development, and by sitting in that discomfort that’s where we move into the things that we’re not saying, that’s when we unearth the deep ego opportunities for learning, or development, for healing.

When there is a case when people do speak out and they believe they’re speaking out with purpose, like for example, there was a moment on Instagram where everyone posted just a black slate, and so you would scroll through Instagram and you would just see black slate after black slate. Well, it backfired because I think the message that was initially intended for that was lost. So is there a lesson that we can learn from maybe not jumping on the bandwagon support? Just seeing something and reposting without thinking about it. Is there are lesson in that?

Absolutely, absolutely. I think my lesson for myself is always to come to whatever medium with an intention, to learn first, to educate myself first. Instead of just adopting whatever the masses are doing in a way to say, Oh, I’m one of those good insert identifier here. And as a society, we’ve kind of lost connection with this belief that we are meant to be active citizens, active participants in our society, in our social discourse. That we start with interrogation, that we start with critical discussion, and then we move forward, having taken all of these voices into account. I often tell this story about a non-profit that did a huge fund raise, and they were raising all of this money to send rice to these refugee camps. And later they show up on the grounds and all of the donors are looking at these bags and bags of rice that are now rotting in these storehouses. They’re going, why is the rice rotting? We spent millions to earn this money to get this rice, and one of the program managers on the ground said, well, but if you had actually stopped to ask the community, you would have known that rice is not in their diet. And that’s sometimes what happens when we see these big, huge campaigns that nobody stop to ask the community, what sort of response would you want?

I think that is a great analogy.

It really is a great analogy because it does explain exactly what’s going through our minds, because I think people do want to do the right thing, but instead of having taking that time for the individual thought, it’s just easier to share it. Anything that vain with pop culture. how do we change our perspective? Because even movies about racial injustice seem to center around a white character who is the engine of that story, for example, recently I thought about the movie The Help, I loved that movie, but as I thought about it, I realized that the female white character was a driving
factor in this story, and so I feel like maybe do we need to start to examine the issue of films and television where the narrative surrounding this discussion is coming from a white perspective?

Yes, yeah, so, and even you and I have joked about raising small humans, and in my household, the joke is, Mom, can we please just watch the Disney movie without the discourse on white supremacy, misogyny, ableism. Again, I think the call is to invite our children to have a critical eye to elevate their discourse at four or five, they’re actually ready to do this. If you look at the movie Frozen Two, there’s a great opportunity to talk about this history of rewriting history from the standpoint of the victor, and already they’re asking these questions, they’re hungry for the information. But I think a lot of us, if I name the age that I am, we were cultured around the we don’t talk about money and politics or religion table, and that has actually been to our detriment. And engaging with media, in engaging with film and literature, in music, there is the opportunity to have these conversations and then choose better options. Really look for the story that I want to engage in, who is the storyteller? Who is painted as the victor in this story? And then you kind of get to the point where you just laugh about it and you’re like, wow, that was an extremely sanist movie, never going to be watching that again. But it was just not something that we were calling ourselves to do maybe even a year ago, two years ago, and as you start to expand your view, you start to realize, well, what can I watch? What you can listen to anymore? But it is there, once you start taking that critical approach, you can watch this show.

So we’re gonna have more of my conversation with Lindsey later in the show, including advice on how to talk with this with your relatives. Remember, you can always send us your feedback and your questions, email us at Newday@kingfive.com.

Welcome back to the show. Now, we started today’s show asking some hard questions about race that some may not
know how to ask. But no worries, we are continuing that conversation right now with diversity, equity and inclusion, coach, Lindsey Jackson. What we saw this summer between politics, everything that’s happened with the civil unrest, we’ve seen breaks in families, because there are just family members who will not see that perspective and who are racist. How do you handle that? And what can you do in, in a lot of cases, just stop talking to that person?

For our students, for our clients, one of the most challenging lessons is to remind them of all of the people that took the time to be their teacher. We took on that emotional labor, whether it was your black friend, whether it was that black colleague or that trans colleague or that insert other marginalized individual who was kind with you in your learning process. And then to ask yourself, why would we want to run away from being that kind teacher in our own family, around our own dinner table? And the thing about it is, if you’re not willing to teach your racist family member, your homophobic family member, who’s going to do it?

And it’s an excellent point. And it is recognizing, I think that we have to do this together. We can’t exist without one another. So we must do this together. Finally, a question about labels. Recently, we’ve been hearing the phrase BIPOC a lot – black indigenous people of color. I know that good people out there, they want to use the right terminology, but is there an issue with labels over an individual person? And how do people handle it and how do they frankly ask that question?

Yes. I’m a lover of language and the thing about language is that it’s constantly growing and changing. And back to what you asked before, I think the challenges that we get locked into our day-to-day and we’re moving and we’re hustling and we’re trying to get through work or feed the small humans or feed the four-legged friends, whatever that is, and so we sometimes default to being lazy in our language. And because language is constantly growing, constantly changing, you can have fun with it in the sense of, I’m gonna learn a new word today, and every time somebody comes to you and says BIPOC is not the term anymore, it’s X, Y, Z, it’s like, thank you, language changed. Thank you for that opportunity to learn and grow.

Okay, that’s good to know.

Right, the LGBTQIA+ that language is something that is constantly changing right now, and we have an opportunity to look to our young people and say, be my teacher, let me grow, let me learn from you. Instead of trying to put them in this little box and say, no, you’re in the box now, I learned that term, and I need you to not break out of it. It’s limiting to ourselves as constant students, and it’s limiting to those individuals that are young and therefore tasked with recreating our society, again and again.

And thanks to Lindsey for joining us with this discussion. As always, please send us your feedback and your questions. You can email us at Newday@kingfive.com. And thanks for spending time with us today.