Facilitating dialogue about race is a strange job to have. It’s not at all what I thought my professional life would look like. And yet, the deeper I go, the more grateful I become that my life hasn’t unfolded in the ways I’d planned.
You see, doing this work forces me to be present. When I’m coaching my clients, when I’m facilitating a dialogue, when I’m leading a workshop or speaking. For that moment in time, I choose to set aside the worries and fears that threaten to permanently burrow themselves into the fabric of my being, and listen.
Because in order to do this work, I need to see you. Your perspective isn’t of secondary importance when I’m facilitating a dialogue. It’s primary. Genuine conversation and connection can’t unfold when my primary purpose is forcing you to hear me. Or when I’m focused on fixing you. Or when I’m so preoccupied with the way I think things should be that I can’t hear you.
I’m sharing this with you, because I want you to know that my human and your human are both human. It is a struggle learning how to navigate the race conversation. A struggle that is unpredictable, and often shockingly surprising in its layers.
But there is one thing we all can do that has the power to make a tremendous difference in how our conversations about race unfold.
Practice being present. Instead of hearing the words we think someone is going to say, begin to hear the words that are actually being said. Instead of concluding that we already know how the conversation is going to go, take a deep breath and let the possibility of the moment unfold.
Being present in conversations about race gives us the chance to begin to truly see each other.
And seeing each other, really seeing each other, has the power to change everything.