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People frequently shy away from discussing race. Yet, for many reasons, discussing race is extremely important. Drawing upon my experience of teaching a small seminar that addressed race through the lens of reconciliation, in this essay I offer several suggestions for fostering constructive race-related dialogue. I begin by identifying some factors that can make race-related dialogue difficult. I then suggest five steps that may facilitate constructive dialogue: (1) establish trust and good conversational dynamics before discussing race, (2) prompt the discussion with a reading or other informative stimulus, (3) listen to others with the goal of understanding their thoughts, (4) express one’s views without being needlessly antagonistic, and (5) approach subjects from multiple perspectives. Such steps do not guarantee a learning conversation. However, in my experience, they often help produce one.
Jonathan R. Cohen, Fostering Race-Related Dialogue: Lessons from a Small Seminar, 22 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 407 (2012), available at http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/244