Mindset

Why Are We Scared To Talk About Race And Racism?

Aug 25 2021 By Minal Niraula  
Why Are We Scared To Talk About Race And Racism?



Why Are We Scared To Talk About Race And Racism?
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Have you ever felt uncomfortable talking about race or racism? Or kept it to yourself, unsure of how to bring up the topic? More than two billion people are living on Earth. We’re unique in appearance, heritage, and culture. And yet we rarely share our cultural backgrounds or talk about what makes us different when it comes time to form friendships with new people.

This is why it’s so important for us all to not be afraid of talking about race and racism — particularly as a white person (or a person of any dominant culture). It’s easy to hide beneath the cloak of indifference. But that only creates an environment where ignorance can thrive and oppression can continue unnoticed…

How to start a conversation about racism?

I think the key is not to make this about the failings of others, but instead to point this out as a shortcoming in ourselves. That it is our responsibility to understand and learn about what privilege and oppression are. We should also talk to our friends and families about understanding race and how that affects others.

a hand writing on paper with black pen
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We all — regardless of skin color or heritage — carry the weight of privilege on our shoulders. How we choose to use that privilege determines how we treat others… I believe positivity breeds positivity; education breeds understanding; growth happens with dialogue. It’s never been more important for us all as individuals to be brave enough to talk openly about racism as it affects everyone.

There’s no easy or perfect way to start a conversation about race and racism. Often these conversations can be uncomfortable because the conversation itself is uncomfortable.

But I’ve found that the best way to have these conversations is to have them with our friends, families, co-workers, and acquaintances. It might be easier for us to start a conversation with someone who we know might not feel like they have the power in a situation. That could be another white person (or a person of any dominant culture).

Why is it important for us all as individuals to talk about race?

Understanding race and racism affects everyone — regardless of skin color or heritage. Knowing what it means for people of color in America can spark outrage in you…

Then, you can share this outrage and that’s when the conversation really takes off. We can then begin to learn about what it means to be racially oppressed. As I mentioned earlier, we all carry the weight of privilege and oppression. It’s our duty as individuals to acknowledge that and learn about how it affects others.

We all as individuals need to talk with people from marginalized communities about how the same systems affect them. That includes learning how racism affects their daily interactions with people from dominant cultures in America (or any other country).

Understanding race and racism affects everyone — regardless of skin color or heritage. Knowing what it means for people of color in America can spark outrage in you…

Then, you can share this outrage and that’s when the conversation really takes off. We can then begin to learn about what it means to be racially oppressed. As I mentioned earlier, we all carry the weight of privilege and oppression. It’s our duty as individuals to acknowledge that and learn about how it affects others.

We all as individuals need to talk with people from marginalized communities about how the same systems affect them. That includes learning how racism affects their daily interactions with people from dominant cultures in America (or any other country).

On the flip side, we must learn from people from marginalized communities about their struggles and oppressions—from their perspective. They have so much to teach us. For example, I have so much insight into how a racist society acts out on African Americans because I’ve experienced it myself.

There are many reasons why those who experience racism should talk about it and bring it to light in the first place.

protest with people holding signs
Photo by Life Matters from Pexels

First and foremost, so that people with privilege know (and hopefully feel) what it’s like to be on the receiving end of systematic oppression—their daily interactions are characterized by fear and anxiety so that more people with privilege start talking about race.

Second, so that those who experience oppression can help others, as a way to work through their experiences.

Third, so that younger people don’t grow up unaware of racism and inequality—and thus be able to combat it as they grow older. Racism is an epidemic in our society. Many are not aware of its existence until it affects them directly:

This is why we must have dedicated time and space for conversations about race between the generations. A person’s perspective on class—and the ways they interact with it—will change when they experience any systematic oppression firsthand; one can’t effectively fight against systemic oppression without first experiencing it! The same principle applies to race and how people of color experience racism in America.

By sharing what it’s like to live in a racist society, we can all better understand each other’s struggles. That includes how systemic racism and white supremacy affect people of color (and all races who are oppressed under this system) across time and space.

When we talk about race in America—from all races’ experiences—it opens up the conversation to our oppression on multiple levels. As more people with privilege learn about the systemic nature of racism, so will they potentially learn about their own privilege concerning it.

This is the inexorable outcome of exposing systematic oppression: Privileged people start feeling guilty for their position in society.

Also read: What Is Critical Race Theory? And Why Is It Causing Controversy?

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