written by
Kyle Hardin

How listening helped me understand differences and make new friends

Social Justice 1 min read , September 30, 2020

I was recently invited to join two online group conversation events centered around systemic racial injustice. The first event (here) was about white privilege and how to fix systemic racism and the second (here) was about how to de-militarize the police.’'

Both sessions involved a highly diverse, multi-racial group of people from various backgrounds. It's difficult to find the right words to describe just how unique and important these dialogues were, but I'll try to explain by focusing only on the first session for the sake of brevity.

As we all became acquainted with one another, we began to talk openly about race, racism in its many forms, white privilege, and other related subjects. As the discussion went on, with each person taking their turn to speak from their own perspectives and share their stories, something important became apparent - each speaker was being granted kindness and empathy from everyone else. When one member spoke, all others listened intently and asked thoughtful questions. This was, to my great relief, a safe space.

Once I felt that safety, a great calm settled into my mind and I allowed myself to begin expressing my own blind spots, insecurities, and ignorance about the depths of racism (at this point I should mention that I'm a white man). I was given the opportunity to talk about how little I understood and was met with sympathy and generosity.

Finally and most importantly, having a forum where our BIPOC members offered to share their personal stories, experiences, and perspectives was invaluable. Listening to them really helps me begin to grasp just how far we have left to go in the fight to eradicate systemic racism.

By the end, I had gained several new friends. I have greater insight into myself and the things I need to work on moving forward.

To all past and future participants, thank you very, very much.

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anti-racism inclusiveness