Violence, Race, and America:What You Can Do to Make Things Better

Many people are deeply distressed and grieving about race relations in America. There is a feeling of utter helplessness among countless Americans who don’t know what to do to make things better. As someone who has studied and written about race in America for years, I have some suggestions that I’d like to share with you.

1. Spend time with people of a different race. Make an effort to form diverse friendships.

2. Study the history of race in America. Start by reading: The Souls of Black Folk and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

3. Turn off the T.V. and take a break from social media. Television news and talk shows stoke divisiveness and anger to achieve higher ratings. Social media does the same, rewarding the loudest and most outrageous with more clicks, likes and followers. Don’t be part of it.

4. Tone down your own rhetoric. History shows us that the use of over-the-top language is reckless. Words lead to actions.

5. Work on your listening skills. We are so busy talking that we may not really hear what others are saying.

6. Don’t be so sure you’re right. Think long and hard about your motivations. Open your mind to the possibility that you may be wrong.

7. Focus on the good, not the bad. As my friends the famed centenarian Delany Sisters used to say to young people: “There are good people out there. Your job is to find them.”

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