At one time or another, we have all harbored a negative thought or drawn a conclusion about a person or group of another race based on our isolated personal experiences, what we have heard from others, or have seen in the media.
Refusing to be a “perpetuator” of negativity, I went on a quest to get to know, on a deeper level, individuals who “don’t look like me.” I’ve succeeded—and over the years, I’ve developed some amazing cross-cultural relationships that are mutually rewarding. Here are some of the key strategies that worked for me:
- Determine whether you are indeed a racist. Do you really believe that a particular race is inherently inferior or superior, or that their moral or social behavior is attributable specifically to race? You see, there is a good chance that rather than being a racist, you may be guilty of “racial preference” in which you prefer to be with people of your own race due to familiarity, fears about the other race, or other learned reasons. I admit that I have occasionally practiced racial preference. For example, I prefer to watch Black movies with Black people because the audience tends to respond to the humorous, joyful, or sad scenes in a way that reinforces the bond we share because of our history or other relatable cultural distinctions.
- Get close enough to understand people on an individual basis. Stop ignoring the “elephant in the room”—being racially different—and have a real conversation. Ask questions about their life experience, share a meal, and engage in a social, religious, or sports activity together. Be proactive in initiating the connection; don’t wait to be invited. If at first you don’t succeed with a particular person, try another. In the end, you will find that you have more in common than you imagined.
Get the other 3 strategies at my guest post for Bishop T.D. Jakes: http://www.tdjakes.com/posts/6-ways-to-resist-racism