Yesterday was the day we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. That holiday inspires a lot of discussion about race and racism, but those are conversations that need to continue all year long. But we know how difficult it can be to start those conversations or steer them into a productive direction. The good news is, there is some very solid research that tells us a lot about how to talk about race and bias in ways that can help people come together to work toward change.

LightBox Collaborative has been working with Welcoming America to help them “build a nation of neighbors,” updating their own organizational brand and messaging, and developing the Reframing Refugees toolkit. And now we are proud to share their latest toolkit, “America Needs All Of Us: A toolkit for talking about bias, race and change”. From the introduction:

Based on Research, Tested in the Field

The framing and messaging strategies contained in this toolkit are adapted and refined from extensive research conducted by Emory University professor and political strategist Dr. Drew Westen and supported by the Four Freedoms Fund on how to talk to Americans about demographic change and unconscious bias. … The good news is that his research showed that when we address people’s fears and unconscious bias directly, we can successfully shift their attitudes and opinions to be more accepting of immigrants.

But we also know that research only takes us so far. We had to develop language that reflects our values and that people could use comfortably. We worked with leaders and practitioners in the field of immigration and racial justice to ensure that the content of the toolkit was informed by the real experiences of people who we envision using this resource.


Talking about Race Works

One of the most exciting findings of the research was that it actually helps to talk about race explicitly. When we talk about the different ways black and brown, Asian and Arab American people get treated in our society and systems, people respond positively. That makes the toolkit even more important. We need to be talking about race and bias with one another, but we are also naturally concerned or uncomfortable about bringing up tough topics. That is the purpose of the toolkit—to help people step into their discomfort so that we can ALL get more comfortable together talking about race and bias, and working to make our communities more equitable places for everyone.

To achieve the fully inclusive and equitable society we envision for America, we know there is much more work to be done beyond talking. But change almost always starts with a conversation, so the more conversations we can start, the bigger difference we can make. By starting productive conversations, we can help people see the world differently and see what is possible when we truly value one another and come together around a positive vision for our communities and country.

Image courtesy of Welcoming America

amandaLightBox Collaborative Partner Amanda Cooper loves being a professional conversation starter.