SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Scan social media on any given day and it can leaving you longing for more civility when it comes to discussions on race. Belinda Roberson, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the YWCA Northwest Louisiana and Rachel Scott is a former board president and Racial Justice Committee Chairperson. Both have been helping people with the conversation for years, with the YWCA’s Dialogue on Race series.
“Many people don’t actually want to have the conversation. Just to get up the courage to say I want to do better. I need to know more. I need to have these conversations,” said Roberson.
Roberson and Scott agree that it’s important to listen, instead of trying to convince others of your point of view. “One thing that we talk about is the difference between dialogue and debate,” shared Scott. “Dialogue is where no one is trying to be right and another person is wrong. Dialogue is where we’re both just hearing opinions and thoughts.”
They suggest, if someone wants to argue, simply share your personal experience. “This is what it was like for me. This is how I felt because that’s not right or wrong,” said Scott. “It’s coming from a personal place. It’s much less of an argument than maybe just saying a statistic.”
Roberson says it’s also important not to be dismissive during the conversation. “One of the things that can make the conversation even tougher is to hear somebody say well I find that hard to believe. I’ve never seen that. Hearing those kind of comments when as an African American I’ve lived it my whole life whether you’ve seen it or not.”
Roberson and Scott say it’s not easy for anyone so have an open attitude and be forgiving. “We have to allow grace to each other to make mistakes.” explained Scott. “Because we’re all learning and we will inevitably say something that we didn’t intend to be hurtful.”
To register for the latest “Dialogue on Race” series, click here.