Meaningful Conversations About Race and Experience

— Written By Matin Maani
en Español / em Português

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Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

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As the summer of 2020 comes to a close, our country’s awareness of systemic racial injustice has grown significantly. Protests, initially sparked by police brutality, continue to speak out against appalling acts of violence, and a presidential election intensifies while citizens struggle through a global pandemic. The events of this year have exposed many people to discussions of race, and for some people, it is their very first time engaging in such a discussion. Many are reading books on the subject, or seeking out movies and other media to stay educated. 

In addition to this, we’re all learning about the importance of articulating our own experiences and acknowledging the value that comes with reflecting on one’s personal experience. Reflecting on our own stories can help us form a base for entering these conversations from which we can expand our perspective by listening to others and contribute to the never-ending learning process of life.

When it comes to having actual conversations, though, it can be a little more difficult to know how to navigate them in an effective way. From not knowing specific vocabulary, or having different levels of personal experience, there can be some challenges or intimidating factors that come with talking about race. The co-hosts of #PassTheMicYouth felt it was important to discuss some of these challenges while also consciously trying to practice, personally develop, and emulate what effective listening & sharing looks like and showing the value of our personal experiences. 

Since the recording of our most current episode, even more has developed and unfolded as the fight for racial justice and equity continues, and it says a lot about how these conversations we are aiming to have are not just a one-time thing. We must aim to see this as a skill or habit we are trying to develop, and to understand that this takes a lot of time and effort; time and effort that we are all capable of putting in.

In an endeavor to continue the conversation, the co-hosts of #PassTheMicYouth, Nyawira, Luke, and Matin, plan on releasing more of these episodes as we aim to learn about how to refine the way we constructively and mindfully speak about this important topic, racial justice & equity, as well as other issues that affect us in everyday life. We invite you to look out for our upcoming episodes, and to listen to our most recent episode “Mic Drop: Let’s Talk About Race” by clicking on the Pass the Mic Youth Podcast page!

Questions for Extended Dialogue

We encourage our readers to find a friend or family member with whom to explore these questions together, as our ability to learn and grow is magnified when we work and collaborate with others.

  • What is your earliest memory of recognizing that race played a role in your community?
  • What challenges do you find in speaking about race with others?
  • Where in your community do you see the perception of race change the way people interact and communicate?