Radical Empathy – Terri E. Givens
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Racism is not inevitable. We can train ourselves to see each other differently. By understanding the history of racism, and our part in it, we can improve our society, especially if we can learn to practice "Radical Empathy."
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We are all impacted by racism and bias, but we can train ourselves to see each other differently. Author Terri Givens uses examples from her family history and her own life as examples of how to develop a new perspective on race without losing sight of the past.
The path Givens lays out for us begins with a willingness to be vulnerable. It ends with creating change and building trust. The process, she explains, is gradual and achievable. And, Givens says, can be hopeful.
On how to create change
“Start with your own neighborhood. Start with looking around you. Try to understand the history. That’s why I recommend so many of these books – like the Color of Law – that explain how racial segregation was perpetuated by redlining and real estate and keeping people out of neighborhoods.”
On how we can assess our progress
“We have to be willing to get uncomfortable because it takes stretching yourself, getting outside of your normal networks and the normal way you do things. We can see examples of “maybe this is working.” I think we’ll know when we’ve gotten there when everyone would just love to stop talking about race. For now, it’s going to take breaking down structures, and that is never easy.”
What we can all do right now
“People are afraid of vulnerability, but I believe that vulnerability makes us stronger in the end. And so I would say if there’s only one thing you do, be willing to look inside. Be willing to be vulnerable and understand the way things like structural racism and bias have impacted you. That’s a critical step, and if more people did it, I think we’d have a better society.”