The way that “Continuing Conversations on Race” works is — nothing said in the room, gets repeated outside the room. These monthly sessions are valuable, specifically for their confidentiality. However –after the  last session, Roberto Schiraldi offered some additional insights on the comments that he had made, and we welcome his thoughts for this blog.

The problem — We don’t always know how to respond to racist or biased remarks and jokes. Laugh? Get upset? Ignore? Roberto had gone to a multicultural workshop led by Dr. Tina Paone of Monmouth University. Paone leads various diversity training workshops including “Take Off the Rose-Colored Glasses, Understanding Whiteness” (a full-day workshop) and “Race Card: How Does Systemic Racism Affect People of Color” (half-day). Some of Paone’s observations come from materials developed by International Training and Development LLC, 2007. 

Click here for a preview of Ouch That Stereotype Hurts, am excellent video from that organization, which includes the following points. 

-The first response can be as simple as “ouch”

-Remember, it’s about what they said, not who they are
-Ask a question, i.e., “Do you know why you feel that way?” Sincere and open ended questions work best. 
-Assume good intent and explain impact
-Interrupt and redirect, i.e., “Excuse me, I just heard your comment.” “Whoa, let’s not go down that path.” Or just walk away. 
-Broaden to universal human behavior — generalize the behaviors to large groups, not just this particular individual or race. “I don’t think it’s a gay thing, I think it applies to everyone.” 
-Narrow the focus, make it individual, i.e., “This is how it affects me.” “You mean, all managers, are you speaking of someone in particular.”

Still, if you can’t come up with anything else — you can still say OUCH! “A simple, effective four-letter word  carries a lot of meaning and puts a pause in the conversation which gives everyone time to think about what was said. You don’t have to sit silent when you want to speak up — and your voice will make a difference.”

The next Continuing Conversation on Race will be Monday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m., at the Princeton Public Library. You’re invited to…continue the conversation.