I’ve accepted an invitation to be a guest host on a web and telephone conference call/conversation on August 21 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. The program, a component of a series entitled “Courageous Conversations About Education,” will last two hours.
The invitation came about as a result of my response to a comment I made to a Facebook post (made by a friend of a friend) about media responses to the killing of Dallas police officers. Included in the post was the following comment, addressed to the media: “…your unified appeal for “unity and acceptance” among African Americans “for” law enforcement, specifically, Caucasian police, in many instances, is falling on deaf ears; Why?; because, as each of you speak, your unfair bias in favor of the police is resonating much louder than any of the other, presumably positive, messages that you desire to offer.”
My comment, made directly in response to the original post but, rather, in response to other comments, was this: “I say the only solution is conversation. Real, honest, respectful conversation that does not judge another person without first TRULY understanding the motivation behind the belief, the desire, the fear…whatever. The constant, “they better understand what’s going on…” is not going to get anywhere. We need to have real, face-to-face conversations. Ignore the conversations that are too “sensitive” to take place and just really talk with one another. Even the bastards who I think deserve to rot in jail for shooting unarmed civilians…we have to listen even to them.“
The woman who made the original Facebook post invited me to participate in a telephone and online conversation on the matter. Though I was hesitant to accept her invitation, her comment to me that “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” resonated with me. So I agreed to join her to lead a discussion, the purpose of which is to educate listeners/participants (and myself) about different perspectives on policing and violence and roads to unity. When I have full details, I will circulate them to my friends and acquaintances, in the hope that they will listen and, if they commit to abandoning their biases and prejudices for the duration of the conversation, engage in dialog. I firmly believe we cannot successfully address the very real problems of racism, black and white and otherwise, until we really talk with and listen to people whose perspectives differ from our own.
From what little I know about the program, I gather the majority of the audience are young black people. My participation as an old white man may seem a little odd, but I think honest conversations between old and young, black and white, religious and nonreligious, energetic and tired…you get the drift…are too infrequent. I’m more than a little nervous about participating, but I’m equally energized that, just maybe, it will be an education to me and to others involved in the conversation.
It will need to be raw as in “the leather gloves go off.” It’s bare handed dialogue and I don’t envy you, because it can go anywhere.
In the end, you are frontiering a needed dialogue!
What an incredible undertaking. I have no doubt you will handle it to the benefit of all who participate. The important part of any conversation should be the development of a relationship at the least and as the optimum, a friendship. Discovering and uncovering commonalities is important. We unconsciously like people who are like ourselves. So when we discover commonalities not related to appearances, politics or religion, we can truly communicate.