SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – During Black History Month you might hear about the importance of having difficult conversations about race relations. The summer of 2020 sparked many of those conversations around the country, but how do you start them or even continue to talk about race and equality?
This past summer people lined Sioux Falls streets showing their support for their neighbors and friends. Another way to show support is to keep the conversation going by educating yourself about diversity, and being willing to listen.
“So the first thing is you want to have the voices of people who’ve lived that life, who’ve lived those experiences sort of talk to you about what they understand, what their perspective is,” Dyanis Conrad-Popova, an associate professor at USD said.
“Just being a hundred percent genuine, right, I think that’s the first one you have to do. If you don’t know something, it’s like, ‘hey, you know what, so and so, I really don’t know anything about x, y, z, wondering if we can have a conversation, we can talk.’ Or some people can just be their natural selves and just build a relationship with someone,” Mark Blackburn, the Dean of Students at Augustana University said.
Doing your own research is also important.
“Just educate yourself. You don’t have to necessarily need someone of color or someone of systemically non-dominant populations to teach you about culture and different things,” Blackburn said.
“Your Black friend or your colleague or your neighbor, doesn’t have to be the one to educate you. Scholars, scholars of color, particularly Black and indigenous people of color have written about this for decades, if not longer,” Conrad-Popova said.
Then you can spread that knowledge.
“You know, what does the work is, you know, when you hear someone say something at the Thanksgiving dinner table, when you hear someone say something in your office meeting, when you hear someone say something when you are with your friends and are out having drinks, that is when it matters. That’s when you speak up. That’s when you say, hey, this isn’t okay or maybe you should think about this a different way,” Conrad-Popova said.
“There’s a lot of disparities out there and so understanding what they are and then trying to help eradicate those. I think that you will get a lot of allyship and then you also learn to have courage to fight for all the injustices that we have in our society,” Blackburn said.
On February 28th, you can watch our Black History Month special here on KELOLAND. We’ll continue that conversation on March 1st as well.