How to Talk to People who are Fearful of Anti-racist Language
For many folks, it is not easy to take on anti-racist work. Many of us don’t know as much as we should and are playing “catch up” in doing our homework and educating ourselves in all the ways in which the systems in which we have become comfortable need to be disrupted. In addition to our own learning about these systems, we can add the difficulty of having colleagues who would rather not discuss it, or may flat out deny that these systems are, in fact, oppressive to some people. Arming yourself to have these conversations is an important part of being more than a silent supporter. Remember to start with common values — starting with common ground is always an easier go than opening with conflict. Equity is a very common espoused value. You should also do your homework. There is a tremendous amount of scholarship on this topic — you don’t need to rely on your personal experiences or opinions. Remember to ask more than you tell. It is rare that you can argue someone into another state of belief; it is far easier to get them to reflect themselves into a new belief. Asking them to tell you more about why they feel that way, how long they’ve felt that way, what makes them think that’s true are all ways to get people to go deeper than superficial generalizations. Last, be prepared for the faulty reasoning that people rely on when they are frightened. Being able to identify and call out an argument as a false-analogy, concurrence fallacy, or a tautology (or many others) helps to shut down problematic thinking.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
-Martin Luther King Jr.