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Calling for a Conversation on Race

[caption id="attachment_1000" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP[/caption] "If you have not talked to someone of a different race about race in the last 30 days, you are part of the problem."     Former Senator Bill Bradley, DePauw University 1997 When Bill Bradley spoke at DePauw University, he chose to focus on "Beginning a Conversation About Race," and stated that slavery was "our original sin" and race "an unresolved dilemma."  Our "unresolved dilemma" continues with relentless tragedies, much rhetoric and little listening.  Former presidents and presidential candidates call for a national conversation on race.  This, of course, would be an important step toward understanding. The background music for the conversation would be "walk a mile in my shoes."  As the violent deaths mount, the most helpful action for any person is active listening.  If I listen I will hear an African American friend or co-worker talk about being followed by a store employee to be certain she does not shoplift.  I am moved when I hear an African American parent’s conversation with a son telling him to keep his hands on the wheel of the car so a police officer will not think he is reaching for a gun.  The list of suggested behaviors for African Americans is long and insulting. The prescription to heal any division is mutual respect, empathic listening and a desire to work together for positive changes.  No one is right all the time and no one is wrong all the time.  Violent demonstrations only further divide the community.  Rocks thrown at police, businesses destroyed and cars overturned have added to the fear and distrust between the races and police. I believe it is equally important to embrace a non-judgmental attitude toward the police.  Too often police are painted with a broad brush as racist and violent.  Change in policing continues to be a need and those who use excessive force need to be removed.  Morale among police is extremely low because the actions of a few fuel judgmental attitudes toward all police.  They too desire the experience of people listening to their reality, what it is like to leave home in the morning and not know if you will return home; what it is like to have rocks thrown at you and obscenities hurled in demonstration after demonstration; what it is like to have to make instant decisions that will be second guessed; what it is like to be judged on the behavior of others. The conversation on race must have a wide circle.

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