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EP 01: How can I talk to my Black friends about everything going on?

Nov 12, 2020

In this session, we explore the question; what's the best way to engage in discussion with your Black friends, coworkers, and peers around the Black Lives Matter movement and all the injustice that has brought us to this moment in time?

Join us at the Inclusion 1st Project as we explore inclusion via the questions and discourse of allyship in the Anti-racist Movement.


  • Whether you can talk to your friends of color about what is happening
  • Under what circumstances is it appropriate to invite friends or colleagues of color to consult?





Session Topic: How can I talk to my Black friends about everything going on?

Okay, so our next question is really about talking with your black friends about their experience. And so we had two really interesting questions.

The first one was, is there a good way for me to ask my black friends or friends to share their experience? And then the other one was, can I talk to my friends of color about what is happening? If so, how?

I'm going to actually get the second one first. You can absolutely talk with your friends of color about what is happening. I think that it's important to have these conversations. The line that we want to be careful of crossing or walking is really asking people to share their experience because it's a heavy, heavy topic. I just want people to think about racism, whether it's a microaggression all the way up to really horrific demonstrations of racism. They're all traumas.

So would you ask your friend, like, kind of on the spot too, relive a trauma, whether large or small? I would say no. That's not your intent. Yes, you want to learn more? Yes, you want to be empathetic? Yes, you want to hold space for your friends and people that you care about, but asking them on demand to share the hurtful or traumatic experience is just really not. I know that's not what anyone is intending. So just try to think about it and a little bit different away.

And I think the better approach is to make yourself available for them so that if they want to talk about it, that they can. Let them know that you're a safe place. You are a supportive person, super important and then being there for a time when maybe they actually volunteer this information on their own. Right. You might be in a conversation where just organically comes out. Your traumatic experience on demand is really more about you and less about like them and being supportive. So that's kind of how I would start that. Kyle, what do you have to add to this?

I agree wholeheartedly that, again, you wouldn't ask people to relive traumatic experiences on demand.

So I would say if they're ready and when is the biggest thing is, you know, like Kerry said, holding this and just being in a relationship with people who say it's all about relationship. When you're in a relationship, you don't ask yourself, you don't question when and if and how to ask these questions as much because they happen organically, not always.

But I think we are, again, feeling the pressure right now because this topic is so front of mind that we feel we need to rush to it. And it's like, well, in any relationship, on any topic, especially challenging, difficult or traumatic you know, you're going to have to wait and talk about it when you're ready when people are ready.

So I would say, again, I'm like doubling down on what Kerry is saying in terms of if they're ready to share, they will share it when they're ready. So be there with listening ears, grateful to kind of accept what it is like, I almost treating it like a gift by opening up and sharing something with you rather than a mission for you to go and get something from them. I would add to that.


Part two, this question is, under what circumstances is it appropriate to invite friends or colleagues of color to consult, present, provide feedback, resources, or in any way help our organization become more diverse and a helping, meaningful and authentic way?

This is another place where we want to be careful, because in a lot of cases, like black people, people of color, women are often asked to fix the problems of the system that they are being victimized by. So if you look around diversity, inclusion, training, you're going to see, especially on that first wave, a lot of people of color, a whole lot of women are in those trainings. When we're thinking about women progressing at work. Let's put the women in a leadership program so they can be developed.

So this whole concept of needing to fix the people of color, the people of color having to drive, this is really where it's problematic. I would say a better way would be to gather a task force of diverse people together so that people can raise their hand and say, I want to do this versus the other being asked to do this, and then make sure that the majority of people, white people are in those conversations. I mentioned this in our live webinar, black people, people of color. You've been doing this work for a long time and a lot of people are tired and that doesn't mean that they don't want to continue doing it but what we want is help.

What we want is for majority-white Americans to actually take the lead to take the reins, to start to do their part in educating themselves and coming up with ideas coming together with us instead of the feeling of, oh, we want you to do it. You guys figure out, let go and figure out how to fix this, people of color like, no, we wanted to be a collaboration, but we also want white America to do the work so that we can come to the table, both educated, both with information and both with ideas to push it forward versus one party having to carry the more significant load of fixing this problem.

Yeah, and I would add to that exactly what you said at the end like there is a significant load being carried. So whatever you can do to balance that out and carry it together. Like, I think we can all agree it's heavy. These are uncomfortable, like histories that we're dealing with experiences. Like we said earlier in another question, the trauma that we're experiencing and handling.

So whatever you can do to level the playing field, but just really use that to ease the burden of anyone else, like come to the table together, create cohesiveness in your approach.  Don't exclude. The whole point is not to exclude anyone, aim good everyone and then see who really wants to carry the banner forward but know that you're all there together. I think cohesion is what comes to my mind. Cohesiveness, cohesion, but basically, I love the sentiment of being in this together because when other people take responsibility, that's when we can all move forward together because there might be times like Kerry said where someone's been. Thank you so much. The burden that they're exhausted. It doesn't mean they're tapping out. It just means someone else gets up that slack so that we can keep going together. So I would say whatever you can do to bring all of it into a unified effort, the better.








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