“How Can I Be Less Prejudiced?”: The Best Answer We’ve Ever Heard

September 7, 2016

We’ve Been Thinking A Lot About Equity Lately

With the election fast approaching, we’ve been thinking especially hard about access to voting and the ways that entire communities of people – particularly African Americans and other people of color – are discouraged from participating in our democracy. It’s not right – in fact, it’s downright un-American.

And it’s something else, too:  it’s part of a much larger conversation about racial equity. This is a tough topic to talk about, which is why we were so impressed with Heather McGhee’s eloquent response to a caller when she was a guest on CSPAN’s Washington Journal program last week. Describing himself as prejudiced, the caller asked her, “What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?”

Her response is something everyone should hear:

Heather’s ideas focus on expanding your worldview and getting to know real black families. Not stereotypes and fear-mongering media portrayals, but real black Americans who live every day in a world that can, at times, be very unwelcoming to them.

Here’s what she suggested:

  • Admit that there’s a problem. Often the hardest step is recognizing that you yourself may have prejudiced views.
  • Get to know real black families. Listen to their experiences and hear their voices on complicated issues.
  • Turn off the news at night. News sources over-represent black crime and create unnecessary fear.
  • Join or visit a predominantly black or interracial church. The more perspectives you can call on when tough issues come up, the better.
  • Learn about the history of the African-American community. We got here from somewhere. Learn the whole story.
  • Foster conversation. Next time you’re with friends or family or neighbors, don’t shy away from difficult conversations about race. Ask the hard questions, and talk about how we can build positive relationships going forward.

Heather McGhee is president of Demos, a rockstar social justice organization that we work closely with. Check out the awesome things Demos is up to here.

Want to learn more? Check out the 7 ways we know that systemic racism is definitely real.