Begin the conversation
If having a conversation about race and racism is uncomfortable, Minot State University Diversity Council co-chair Annette Mennem said individuals should ask, “Why am I uncomfortable?” Attempting to discover what makes each of us uncomfortable can lead to better understanding of our own history and move beyond it.
•Before entering conversations about race and racism, it is necessary to acknowledge the discomfort. The history of racism in America is centuries old and full of pain and oppression. Be respectful of the weight of the topic and its complexity.
•As a person who identifies as white, be ready to listen. Active listening takes patience and work.
•Don’t remain ignorant by being afraid to ask questions. Asking questions leads to understanding.
•Educate yourself. The web is full of videos and lectures that help us all better understand complex issues like race, racism, and white privilege. Visit the Red & Green homepage at MinotStateU.edu/redgreen for video and web links.
•Read works by living writers of color discussing real issues facing them today. For a link to 16 recommended texts, visit the Red & Green website.
•Be an advocate. Confront people who use racial slurs, stereotype, and make snide comments relating to culture and race. Let them know it isn’t funny and it’s never appropriate. Silence can be the most powerful form of affirmation, so use your voice. Speaking up can be difficult, so Mennem suggests using the statement, “We don’t do that here.” Use your education to teach those around you.