Talking to your friends and family about racism

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 5:09 PM CDT
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The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussions nationwide about racial issues. One local professor discusses the importance of talking to your friends and family about racism.

"In this country, African Americans have only asked for equal enforcement of our rights," said UW-Eau Claire professor Selika Ducksworth-lawton. "We have not asked for more rights. We have not asked for special treatment."

Selika Ducksworth-Lawton is a history professor at UW-Eau Claire as well as the president of Uniting Bridges, a race building organization in Eau Claire. She says it is important to address racism with your friends and family.

"When you're talking to your relatives, you really want to talk about racial bullying. Racism is on the continuum of bullying and the people who will use race to bully will also use class to bully."

Ducksworth-Lawton also says to approach the topic delicately to help ease them into an understanding of how racism works.

"Don't start off by calling them racist. You start off by saying 'good white people who don't know anybody racist don't recognize how many are out there."

It is very important for people, according to Ducksworth-Lawton, when discussing racial justice issues to inform each other on the difference between "all lives matter" and "all lives should matter."

"The thing is all lives don't matter equally in the United States. The rights of everyone are not equally enforced so while all lives should matter, all lives don't."

Talking about issues we may see daily, Ducksworth-Lawton says, can help spread awareness of racism in the United States.

"We have to talk about this corruption of our governmental system to bring in revenue from people who can't afford the revenue and people have to understand that this can hit everybody. What happens to black and brown people eventually happens to white people."

While it is still a long road ahead, Ducksworth-Lawton says the uncomfortable conversations are part of the process to help end racism.

"We may or may not get to it in my lifetime. We may or may not get to it in my children's lifetime, but every generation brings us closer."

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