Seven Tools / Takeaways to help foster authentic dialogue surrounding difficult issues of race & identity.
- Tell your story. Open up and listen. By sharing our personal stories we discover commonalities.
- Don’t judge the differences. Flip the script; instead of allowing the differences to create a wall between us, start by finding a mutual interest, then embrace the differences (after all, if we were all the same, we’d be bored!). It’s the differences that make us stand out as people, and it’s the differences that make us unique in the marketplace.
- Recognize there isn’t any one way to have a conversation about identity and race. We all have different experiences and therefore bring different points of view to the table – this is actually the strength of our collective spirit, our diversity.
- We can disagree, so long as we’re not disagreeable. Take responsibility for the language we use – Freedom of Speech carries responsibilities.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- Understand there are realities outside your own experience. Just because we may not have experienced racism, sexism, homophobia, age discrimination, disability indifference or other forms of discriminatory treatment, doesn’t mean those are not realities for other people. Listen with empathy.
- Practice forgiveness. It has been described as the hardest work you will ever do, but the most rewarding.
Post Show Questions:
- Were you aware of feeling uncomfortable at times during the show, or unsure if it was safe or appropriate to laugh at certain things? Did you notice if you looked at others during those moments, perhaps as confirmation of those uncomfortable feelings or to see how others were responding? Why do you think that happens?
- Is it appropriate for a White-looking man to play Black characters? Female characters? Did this affect the way you perceived the characters? If you felt it was inappropriate for me to play these characters, who do you believe has ownership of these characters and why?
- Upon speaking with my father for the first time and discovering I was Black, did you began to look at me differently? Were you aware of looking for clues? Near the end of the show, how did you react when I ask about looking at me for signs of my Blackness?
- What does it mean “to be Black”? “To be White?” Do you think we ascribe more variation to being White than Black? If so, why?
- How would you define my race? Do you think the way you see me might be different than the way I see myself? If so, why?
- How do you identify? What do you use as identity markers? Race, gender, age, family position, career/job title, sexual orientation, religion, education, interests… etc.
- When you look at other people – either in your workspace, social settings, or merely passing someone on the street – what markers do you use to identify them?
- Are you conscious of the ways in which you present yourself in different settings? Job interviews, performance evaluations, social settings, formal events, gatherings with your closest friends, family functions. What might be some of those differences in the way you present yourself? Are you familiar with the term code-switching?
- How would you define what it means to be American? Do you think others might describe it differently?