Race Talk and the Conspiracy of SilenceUnderstanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race
Learn to talk about race openly, honestly, and productively Most people avoid discussion of race-related topics because of the strong emotions and feelings of discomfort that inevitably accompany such conversations. Rather than endure the conflict of racial realities, many people choose instead to avoid the topic altogether, or remain silent when it is raised. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race puts an end to that dynamic by sharing strategies for smoothing conversations about race in a productive manner. A guide for facilitating and participating in difficult dialogues about race, author Derald Wing Sue – an internationally recognized expert on multiculturalism, diversity, and microaggressions – explores the characteristics, dynamics, and meaning behind discussions about race as well as the hidden "ground rules" that inhibit honest and productive dialogue. Through emotional and visceral examples, this book explains why conversations revolving around racial issues are so difficult, and provides guidelines, techniques, and advice for navigating and leading honest and forthright discussions. Readers will develop a stronger ability to build rapport with people unlike themselves, and discover how not talking about race impacts society as a whole. Overcome and make visible the fears associated with race talk Learn practical ideas for talking openly about race Facilitate and navigate discussion with expert strategy Examine the hidden rules that govern race talk Understand the benefits of successful conversations Discussions about race do not have to result in disastrous consequences, and can in fact be highly beneficial to all parties involved. It's important that people have the ability to converse openly and honestly with their students, colleagues, children, and neighbors, and Race Talk provides the path for achieving this goal.
Preface ix Preface to the Paperback Edition xv Acknowledgments xix About the Author xxi Section One The Characteristics, Dynamics, and Meaning of Race Talk Chapter One What is Race Talk? 3 Race Talk Represents a Potential Clash of Racial Realities 7 Race Talk Pushes Emotional Hot Buttons 11 Race Talk Evokes Avoidance Strategies 13 Why is Successful Race Talk Important? 16 Chapter Two The Characteristics and Dynamics of Race Talk 18 What Are Characteristics of Race Talk? 21 How Do Societal Ground Rules (Norms) Impede Race Talk? 23 Why is Race Talk So Difficult and Uncomfortable for Participants? 27 Conclusions 33 Chapter Three The Stories We Tell: White Talk Versus Back Talk 35 Race Talk: Narratives and Counter-Narratives 37 Telling on Racism: Unmasking Ugly Secrets 38 Section Two The Constraining Ground Rules for Race Talk Chapter Four “The Entire World’s a Stage!” 55 The Politeness Protocol and Race Talk 57 The Academic Protocol and Race Talk 64 Chapter Five Color-Blind Means Color-Mute 74 Color-Evasion: “We Are All the Same Under the Skin” 78 Stereotype-Evasion: “I Don’t Believe in Those Stereotypes” 82 Power-Evasion: “Everyone Can Make It in Society, If They Work Hard Enough” 86 Myth of the Melting Pot 89 Section Three Why is it Difficult for People of Color to honestly talk about race? Chapter Six “What Are the Consequences for Saying What I Mean?” 95 Ethnocentric Monoculturalism 99 Power and Oppression 105 Chapter Seven “To Speak or How to Speak, That is the Question” 112 Communication Styles 115 Nonverbal Communication 118 Nonverbal Communication in Race Talk: Sociopolitical Considerations 121 Being Constrained and Silenced: Impact on People of Color 123 Conclusions 127 Section Four Why is It Difficult for White People to Honestly Talk About Race? Chapter Eight “I’m Not Racist!” 131 Cognitive Avoidance—Racism Denial 133 Emotional Avoidance—Fear, Guilt, and Other Feelings 138 Behavioral Avoidance—Helplessness and Hopelessness 142 Emotional Roadblocks to Race Talk 144 Chapter Nine “I’m Not White; I’m Italian!” 147 What Does It Mean to Be White? 148 The Invisibility of Whiteness: What Does It Mean? 152 The Fear of Owning White Privilege 154 Fear of Taking Personal Responsibility to End Racism: Moving From Being Nonracist to Becoming Antiracist 159 Section Five Race Talk and Special Group Considerations Chapter Ten Interracial/Interethnic Race Talk: Difficult Dialogues Between Groups of Color 167 Interracial/Interethnic Relationship Issues 169 Race Talk: Fears of Divide and Conquer 171 Sources of Conflict Between People of Color 174 Chapter Eleven Race Talk and White Racial Identity Development: For Whites Only 186 Developing a Nonracist and Antiracist Racial Identity 189 White Racial Identity Development and Race Talk 202 Section Six Guidelines, Conditions, and Solutions for Having Honest Racial Dialogues Chapter Twelve Being an Agent of Change: Guidelines for Educators, Parents, and Trainers 209 Talking to Children About Race and Racism 213 Guidelines for Taking Personal Responsibility for Change 214 Chapter Thirteen Helping People Talk About Race: Facilitation Skills for Educators and Trainers 226 Ineffective Strategies: Five Things Not to Do 230 Successful Strategies: Eleven Potentially Positive Actions 234 References 245 Author Index 260 Subject Index 266
Derald Wing Sue, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He was?Co-Founder and first President of the Asian American Psychological Association, and past President of the?Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues and the Society of Counseling Psychology. Dr Sue?serves on the Council of Elders for?Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. His current research explores the manifestation, dynamics, and impact of racial, gender, and sexual orientation microaggressions. He currently applies this research to strategies for facilitating difficult?dialogs on race in the classroom and public forums and conducts training sessions across the U.S. and Canada to help institutions improve relations among community members.
Unspoken social rules determine much of what we say and do at home, at school, and at work with clients and coworkers. Often, these rules are good for society—they allow us to get along with one another in the world. But occasionally, these hidden rules have a detrimental impact, and in those situations the rules must be brought to light and eliminated. In avoiding this emotionally charged topic, we usually have good intentions—a concern for politeness, a desire not to offend—but Dr. Derald Wing Sue's research has shown that we do far more harm than good when we stay silent about race. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence is an enlightening account of why we still see race as a taboo discussion topic, how our silence harms us, and what we can do to change uncomfortable conversations into productive dialogs. Educators in K–12 and higher education, trainers, mental health and professionals, and parents will appreciate this book's frankness and foundation in scientific evidence. Learning to talk about race is crucial if we hope to achieve the equal society that has long been part of the American mythos. Each one of us, through our everyday interactions with each other and the example we provide for the next generation, can contribute to this hallmark of social justice. In Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence, a concrete set of guidelines and solutions for engaging in honest racial dialogue will help educators, parents, and trainers become agents of change by bringing the issue of race to light in a positive manner. The tacit rules surrounding race talk are more numerous than many people suppose. Without knowing it, we use a number of different strategies to evade the topic, often under the premise that we are "colorblind." Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence exposes these avoidance strategies as the fallacies they are. Readers will also discover why being polite about race—in other words, ignoring the subject—is actually harmful to Whites and people of color alike. This book teaches concrete strategies for identifying and breaking bad habits so that we can break the silence on the issue of race and benefit from meaningful race talk.
Turn Uncomfortable Conversations into Meaningful Dialogue If you believe that talking about race is impolite, or that "colorblindness" is the preferred approach, you must read this book. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence debunks the most pervasive myths using evidence, easy-to-understand examples, and practical tools. This significant work answers all your questions about discussing race by covering: Characteristics of typical, unproductive conversations on race Tacit and explicit social rules related to talking about racial issues Race-specific difficulties and misconceptions regarding race talk Concrete advice for educators and parents on approaching race in a new way "His insistence on the need to press through resistance to have difficult conversations about race is a helpful corrective for a society that prefers to remain silent about these issues." —Christopher Wells, Vice President for Student Life at DePauw University "In a Canadian context, the work of Dr. Derald Wing Sue in Race Talk: and the Conspiracy of Silence is the type of material needed to engage a populace that is often described as 'Too Polite.' The accessible material lets individuals engage in difficult conversations about race and racism in ways that make the uncomfortable topics less threatening, resulting in a true 'dialogue' rather than a debate." —Darrell Bowden, M Ed. Education and Awareness Coordinator, Ryerson University "He offers those of us who work in the Diversity and Inclusion space practical tools for generating productive dialogues that transcend the limiting constraints of assumptions about race and identity." —Rania Sanford, Ed.D. Associate Chancellor for Strategic Affairs and Diversity, Stanford University "Sue's book is a must-read for any parent, teacher, professor, practioner, trainer, and facilitator who seeks to learn, understand, and advance difficult dialogues about issues of race in classrooms, workplaces, and boardrooms. It is a book of empowerment for activists, allies, or advocates who want to be instruments of change and to help move America from silence and inaction to discussion, engagement, and action on issues of difference and diversity. Integrating real life examples of difficult dialogues that incorporate the range of human emotions, Sue provides a masterful illustration of the complexities of dialogues about race in America. More importantly, he provides a toolkit for those who seek to undertake the courageous journey of understanding and facilitating difficult conversations about race." —Menah Pratt-Clarke, JD, PhD, Associate Provost for Diversity, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
"Talking about race - and especially about racism - is one of the most contentious and complex elements of teaching. Its rawness means that this kind of talk is often avoided. Teachers call for time outs, or quickly move the discussion on to another topic. In Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence Derald Wing Sue not only illustrates the subtlety and pervasiveness of racial micro-aggressions, but he also provides seasoned advice on how to keep race talk going in a way that keeps unwilling students and teachers participating. The book is accessible and helpful and will be invaluable to teachers (like myself) who struggle to make race talk a central part of their work"—Stephen Brookfield, John Ireland Endowed Chair, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul
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