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October 2023: Barriers to Having Authentic Conversations

It’s October and many of us will be making plans to spend time with family and friends in the next couple of months. With those plans come new opportunities to engage in important conversations about race and whiteness. At the end of every CWC gathering you hear this mentioned as one of our main goals. 

One thing is clear: we all have different levels of success following through with these conversations. As one person recently explained:

"Every time I leave a CWC gathering, I think, ‘I am totally going to start talking about race and racism more with the people in my life,’ but then I find myself a month later not having had any conversations. I don’t know why. I guess I’m scared of messing up or upsetting the other person.”

Many of us can identify with this pattern and so we thought it would be good to spend some time together looking at the barriers that keep us from engaging in meaningful conversations about race and white supremacy. To jumpstart the conversation, we’ll watch this excerpt from Derald Wing Sue’s lecture (53:22 - 58:18) on the  3 Protocols That Impede Authentic Race Talk. (NOTE: Don’t get too caught up in the jargon of this document.)

To help us reflect on the video and our own obstacles when it comes to having authentic conversations about race and racism, we will use the following questions:

  1. What stood out to you after watching the video?

  2. What questions are you left with about the 3 protocols? 

  3. What is your relationship to politeness, objectivity, and/or colorblindness?

  4. How do these protocols, and any other barriers, show up in your conversations about race?

  5. How do/can you overcome or work through these protocols if they show up?

We look forward to unpacking these protocols with you this month. As always, if this prompt doesn’t inspire you, come to a gathering anyway and share whatever is on your mind and heart.

“There are conversations you haven’t had, stories that need to be unraveled. And if we do that in our backyard, in our office, in our families, have the difficult conversation, miracles happen.” - Elizabeth Lesser


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