The end of racism starts with each of us: Q&A with Vernā Myers
Dec 15, 2014 /Thu-Huong Ha
The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have rocked the United States. But beyond policy reform, what can ordinary people do to combat systemic racism? Diversity advocate Vernā Myers (TED Talk: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them) thinks it starts with confronting our own acknowledged and subconscious prejudices.
In your work, you encourage people to talk to young black men, to get out of one’s comfort zone. Who are you speaking to in particular? Who is your audience?
Everyone. This is something that every human being has to deal with. It’s not like, “White people have to deal with this and black people don’t.” All of us have a comfort zone. My observation is: In the hopes of being respectful and sensitive, people create distance between themselves and people they don’t know well. The only remedy for that is to actually get to know people. So look for opportunities to extend the connection that you do have with people of difference. Get a little bit closer and go deeper. Listen longer in a conversation, be more curious about what people’s views are, share your own life with them. Instead of just, “Hi,” and keeping it neat, really lean into the conversation and be curious about what you don’t know. And be okay about sharing your own worldview.