In our signature introductory course, How to Talk About Race, we focus on teaching a number of tools to support educators and parenting adults in talking about race and taking anti-racist actions in their school communities. These tools are rooted in practices from community organizing, democratic education, critical pedagogy, critical race pedagogy and intergroup dialogue.
The first tool that we teach in How to Talk About Race is the use of norms. Norms are agreements that all members of the dialogue hold to ensure vulnerable conversations about race. A specific set of norms should be named and used for dialogues about race. School and classroom norms are oftentimes not designed with dialogues about race in mind and so may be insufficient to support a community conversation about race.
* These are for example purposes only.
Another tool that we introduce in How to Talk About Race is mindful listening. The purpose of a tool that focuses on listening is to emphasize that participants need to be present for each other and listen to each other’s experiences and race stories in a different way than everyday listening.
Mindful listening is listening to someone else with your entire being. It requires putting the spotlight on the storyteller and keeping it there throughout the telling of the story. Mindful listening asks that you respond with acknowledgement and appreciation rather than curiosity or critique.
*Thank you to Jackie Heymann for helpful language.