Race hurts. Believing that I or you are a problem causes pain because people love people. This perspective suggests that the world is not perfect because of my presence or yours. And we spend much of our time together or apart talking about ways to rid ourselves of “you people.”
But, what if race is the problem? What if race is the one that is causing pain? Damaging our relationships? Once we locate the wound, will we have the courage to apply the pressure of love, to say what must be said in order for healing to occur?
If so, then here are just a few pointers as you prepare to talk about race in your relationships.
1. Don’t react. It is understood that there is pain. Try to remain calm. Instead, relate. We must seek not to prove the other person wrong but to understand why we continue to wrong each other. The goal is not to discuss the wound but to ensure that it is not repeated.
2. Lean in. Sit down with the sole purpose of listening intently. We need to know what happened in order to prevent the injury from happening again and to know what to do if it does. We have to have a plan in place with clear guidelines and support.
3. Maintain eye contact. Don’t look away or at the floor. Don’t shake your head when the other person is talking, disapproving or disagreeing before hearing the person’s perspective fully. In order to clean it thoroughly and close it completely, we must get a good look at it.
4. Touch it. Talk about it without the hindrance of history. It does not matter what has been said. What is most important is what we are saying and doing about race right now.
Race is a wound that has been open for hundreds of years. It has been infected time and time again. How much will we have to lose before we heal ourselves of it for good?