conversation on race

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On Sunday, May 18, 2008
Honest Conversation On Race and Other Subjects

Forty years ago Dr. King said, "Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." Today, let us commit ourselves to take up that challenge again.

Asking the question is a process through which individuals use inquiry as a method for inviting others to consider basic assumptions that are generating conflict. Asking the question is a process through which individuals use inquiry as a method for inviting others to consider basic assumptions that are generating conflict.

What's This All About?

These conversations or dialogue sessions are designed to create an environment where all participants can safely reflect on, and express, their personal experiences around the issues of race, consider the experiences an viewpoints of others, and develop strategies for action the conversations also provide an opportunity for participants to work together to improve their community. After the initial session, some participants my choose to continue meeting; they form friendships they care about and they want to keep the dialog going, acting as individuals to have an impact on race relations, and working on advancing/improving the Conversation on Race project.

What Is It?

Conversation on Race is set up to promote open, honest discussion about racial issues from past to present. These forums can begin the process of conversations and actions for persons of many backgrounds racially, ethnically, religiously, etc. The program was started because, though there has been progress in American society since the Civil Rights Movement, there is still much needed to be done

Every forum held is considered a “safe place,” This means that every community member is able to ask questions and speak their mind about whatever topic is put forth without fear of rejection or repercussion. It is an environment in which all participants learn from one another in an effort to break through racial barriers in our community, in order to start changing things on a larger scale.

Why Should I Be Involved?

Because you’re not comfortable with the tenor of the dialogue around race in our community. Because you believe that we have more in common than we realize. Because this conversation cannot work without you. There are so many well-intentioned people in this community and this provides an outlet for those good intentions to grow into action, both individually and community-wide.. It is your voice that will guide this conversation.

  • Question: Have you ever felt like you couldn’t really talk with someone of a different racial background about racial experiences?

  • Question: Is building a community -- a place where you feel welcomed, safe, and connected at more than a superficial level--something you would like to help create in your neighborhood?

  • Question: Are you interested in learning more about yourself, exploring some of the messages you’ve received about your culture and the culture of others?

  • Question: Do you feel like there has been a lot of talking about race and yet you don’t know what you can personally do to turn this rhetoric into action?

  • Question: What is it that we should know and be able to do to narrow the racial achievement gap?

  • Question: How will we know when we are experiencing success in our efforts to narrow the racial achievement gap?

What is a Conversation on Race?

Conversation on Race is a simple and powerful process for democratic discussion and community problem solving. In these small-group, face-to-face settings, citizens address public concerns, bringing the wisdom of ordinary people to bear on complex issues. Cooperation and participation are encouraged so that the group can capitalize on the experience of all its members.

“Race” -- it’s a four-letter-word we rarely share our thoughts on. We almost never talk about it with strangers. You can join a discussion on race, based on individual experience, insight, and concerns. This project, whose primary goal is to encourage honest and open dialogue on the topic of race, will allow participants to discuss sensitive race issues constructively. You’ll enhance your understanding as you exchange views with others -- all participants can come away with a greater awareness of how others experience and perceive race.

Conversation on Race is voluntary and highly interactive, and give everyday people opportunities to express their voice in public life. The Conversation on Race is small-group democracy in action; all viewpoints are taken seriously, and each participant has an equal opportunity to participate.

Conversation on Race is an “open, but safe” process – democratic discussion among equals – is as important as the content. Conversation on Race seeks “common ground,” but consensus or compromise is not necessary. Study circles provide a vehicle for citizens to work collectively to develop concrete action ideas to address community issues – action on an individual, small- group, institutional, and community level.

Conversation on Race is not a debate, nor an attempt to “preach” or convert all participants to a single point of view. Conversations on Race participants have the opportunity to share their views in a setting that keeps the discussion productive and avoids arguments or attacks.

Conversation on Race helps citizens gain "ownership" of the issues, and to begin thinking of themselves as members of a community capable of solving its problems. Through the discussions, citizens gain deeper understanding of others' perspectives and concerns. They discover common ground and a greater desire and ability to work together- as individuals, as members of small groups, and as voters and members of large organizations in the community. In this way, participants in community-wide study circle programs practice a more vital brand of citizenship that includes taking action as well as voting.

A Conversation on Race:

  • is a process for small group deliberation that is voluntary and participatory

  • is a small group, usually 8 to 12 participants

  • is led by a facilitator who is impartial, who helps manage the deliberation process, but is not an “expert” or “teacher” In the traditional sense

  • considers many perspectives, rather than advocating a particular point of view

  • uses ground rules to set the tone for a respectful, productive discussion

  • is rooted in dialogue and deliberation, not debate

  • has multiple sessions which move from personal experience of the issue, to considering multiple viewpoints, to strategies for action

  • does not require consensus, but uncovers areas of agreement and common concern

  • provides an opportunity for citizens to work together to improve their community

“Facing the Challenge of Racism and Race Relations” remains the most popular Conversation on Race topic but others could include:

  • Doing Good Without Doing Race and Gender
  • Non- Race/Gender Based Approaches to Fairness
  • Reworking the Public Discourse on Race & Ethnicity
  • Active Planning for a Progressive Future
  • Accepting the Responsibility for Change
  • Immigration
  • Education in our Communities
  • Balancing Justice
  • Youth Issues
  • Diversity
  • Violence in Our Communities
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Smart Talk for Growing Communities
  • Neighborhood Issues
  • Police/Community Relations


Conversations on Race is a participatory process that brings together the diverse members of our community for the purpose of improving the community’s racial climate. Through guided dialogue, the participants will move from personal experiences of race and racism, to considering multiple viewpoints, and developing strategies for change through action.

Conversation on Race is a participatory process that seeks to bring diverse members of our community together for the purpose of improving the community’s racial climate. We seek to positively change the climate of the community and maximize the individual and community benefits by setting clear goals and engaging in honest guided dialogues on race and racism in America. We seek to explain our experiences with race and validate the experiences of others as we develop personal and community strategies and goals to combat racism in all its forms.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Develop a better understanding of ourselves as racial beings in a social context

  • Honestly listen and begin to validate the racial experiences of others

  • Build a stronger commitment to a community that appreciates and takes full advantage of living in a diverse community

  • Identify the individual, cultural, and community racism that exists and develop strategies for changing personal and community behaviors that perpetuates racism in all of its forms

  • Develop a better understanding of ourselves as racial beings in a social context;

  • Honestly listen and begin to validate the racial experiences of others;

  • Build a stronger commitment to a community that appreciates and takes full advantage of living in a diverse community;

  • Bring a diverse community together, create strong and honest interracial dialogue habits while developing strategies to combat racism;

  • Identify the individual, cultural, and institutional racism that exists in our communities and develop strategies for changing personal and community behaviors that perpetuate racism in all its forms.


Clarence Page: National conversation on race must be two-way.

Race, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism.

Wright's Church Calls For 'Sacred Conversation' On Race.

What Politicians Say When They Talk About Race.

Where should conversation on race start?

Eugene Robinson: A conversation about race.

Iowa Civil Rights Commission-Study Circles.

The Study Circles Resource Center.
Race and Class.

UCC Calls for Nationwide Race Discussion.

Whitewashing Race. The Myth of a Color-Blind Society.

Campus Conversations on Race: A Talk Worth Having.


NOT ENOUGH CONVERSATION?,9171,987567,00.html

Responding to Obama's call for a conversation about race.

Where, how to begin conversation on race?

Opening a Conversation on Race.


Race, Poverty, and the Inner City --- 40 Years Later.

The American Conversation on Race: The 1850s to the 1930s.
Excerpts from the Essays and Speeches of Frederick Douglass.

Obama's words launch a conversation on race.

We won't transcend race before settling racial issues..
5688351.html The Dialogue to Action Initiative.

On the State of Race Theory: A Conversation with David
Theo Goldberg.

Conversations about race need to be fearless.An interview with
Glenn Singleton.

Obama tackles race anger in major speech.

Where Should Conversation on Race Start? Barack Obama Calls for
New Examination on Race in America, but Many Ask, Where to Begin?

Conversation on Race: Interracial relationships.