The truth is that I wouldn’t be doing this work without the experience of building an undergraduate course (Race & the Law) filled with conversations about race from scratch. I’m endlessly curious and love to teach, but this task intimidated me. Stand up in front of a classroom of people from multiple racial & ethnic backgrounds and talk about race? Have mercy. That sounded like a recipe for a disastrous newspaper headline: Teacher opens mouth wide and inserts foot. Because I was so terrified, I had to figure out what priorities to set. And I had to do it quickly.
I knew I didn’t want the conversation to be about shame, judgment, or me and my personal opinions. I was deeply conscious of how deeply sensitive and vulnerable this class would be for my students. I wanted the class to be conversation-based, not lecture based. I wanted my students to walk away from my courses thinking what they think, not thinking like I think. I wanted the skills they learnt to last long after they’d left my class and forgot about me.
So I started there. With creating a space for conversations about race where every student had a voice, every perspective had room, and every human in the room understood they were valued and that mutual respect and dignity were non-negotiable. I didn’t know what was happening at the time, but I was learning how to create conversations about race grounded in connection and belonging by facilitating conversations about race grounded in connection and belonging.
It was my students who changed everything. Students kept telling me they’d never had a space where they could talk about race like this. With openness. Real connection. Genuine belonging. And actual conversation. Conversation where I, the facilitator, didn’t demand that everyone walk away thinking what I think and saying what I say.
It took awhile, but after creating and teaching a second course (American Courts, Race & Social Issues), and teaching Race & the Law again, my students’ feedback began to cue me in. And the blub lit. If this format of facilitating conversations about race was this valuable for my students, then perhaps it was valuable for organizations, individuals, and groups within our general culture.
So I began consulting with organizations that want to have the race conversation rooted in connection. That are looking for tools that open communication pipelines, release pent-up stress, reduce tip-toeing and avoidance, boost productivity, and deliver fresh clarity. I launched a podcast. Led workshops. Began speaking. Sold my first book. Kept listening to you.
And that’s how I discovered that our stories are transformed when woven together. That’s why I write, teach, and speak by telling stories. It’s why my work is interactive. Yes, even when I’m giving a public talk. Because my work isn’t about me. It’s about you + me weaving our stories together so we can cross the divide and begin to understand each other. So we can make choices rooted in the reality of our experiences instead of our assumptions. So we can begin to transform fear of the divide into connection.
I help open-hearted leaders and creatives create conversations about race that boost clarity, productivity, and connection in our lives and work because everything changes when our stories are woven together.
And it all starts with listening. To you.