Communicating about Multicultural Issues

What Are Some Pointers for Respectful Interracial Communication?

One step in building the bridge toward racial harmony and tearing down the walls of racism is that of interracial communication. While we all know that it is sometimes emotionally difficult and risky to speak candidly, openly, and honestly about race, it is only through this type of dialogue that we are able to become more aware, sensitive, and knowledgeable about each other. Given that the topic of race can be a sensitive and emotional area, it’s important to keep a few pointers in mind:

  1. Do use “I” statements.
  2. Do listen with respect.
  3. Do restate what you’ve heard about a person’s experience.
  4. Do allow questions, no matter how trivial they may seem to you.
  5. Do encourage clarification and elaboration by asking for examples.
  6. Don’t try to debate or downplay a person’s experience.
  7. Don’t blame a person for the “sins” of their racial group.