Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Shares New Approaches to Address Race Relations One Conversation At A Time

With several centuries of overwhelming evidence under our historical belt, there’s absolutely no doubt that we still hang in the balances of injustice. The recent verdict of Breonna Taylor not only sent a shockwave across the country but sent another deafening clarion call that diversity and inclusion have not been achieved and that systemic racism must be addressed and dismantled at the cellular level.

ChoicePoints Learning (CPL) is a coaching and consulting firm that serves institutions and organizations through the discipline of diversity and inclusion. However, its edge is empowering organizations to be able to identify and address individual, organizational, systemic, and institutional obstacles that may exist explicitly or implicitly.

We recently spoke with CPL partner Tracy Carmen-Jones about what CPL is doing to awaken the consciousness between races and navigate the racial climate through solution-oriented approaches. It is using a coaching approach to learning that uses interactive listening, engaging storytelling, and powerful questions to bring a stronger dynamic to diversity and inclusion.

Carmen-Jones says that there’s a need to have interactions with people that “do not look like us.” When it comes to having conversations concerning race relations, reach out to those that don’t work with you, work for you, or are not even in your network or sphere of influence. Why? Because this distancing sets safe bubbles for real, candid, and genuine interaction with no blowback or fear of discussing sensitive topics with people you know or are familiar with.

For example, if there is a group conversation about systemic racism among Black and White co-workers directly, there may be too many reservations, controlled content expression, and repercussions—especially if there are areas where parties disagree. Using this strategic approach aids Blacks and whites to interact in safe, healthy, and effective ways that rarely exist according to Carmen-Jones. “Our secret sauce is bringing to the table who we are, our backgrounds, our experiences and then finding a way to hone it inside of a safe environment that is absolutely authentic,” she explains.

On October 1 and October 2, CPL, in collaboration with Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, will conduct a virtual two-day workshop, Woke: Creating a New Normal on Race, One Conversation at a Time.

According to Carmen-Jones, it’s time to be awakened and moved to action by putting sustainable, long-term changes and systems in place that will make a difference. The CPL team will take a deep dive with Blacks and Whites on:

  • Race in America: A historical look at the cycle of race oppression and resistance to it, and how it impacts and frames the America we live in today.
  • Race in the Formative Years:  A personal journey through your story about race and how it shaped your childhood, youth, and adulthood.
  • Race in Mixed Company:  A navigation on how to initiate, facilitate, and participate authentically in interactions about race and be heard by others.
  • Race to Action: An approach to foster a new normal, one conversation at a time. Exploring choice points in work and home life and intentionally promoting awareness, appreciation, and respect for all.

As African Americans, we should not have to feel like the burden is entirely on us to share our experiences—that weight is too heavy and too exhausting. It’s good for both races to open up about their lived and perceived experiences in relation to the systemic racial overtones that have existed in America for far too long.

Some final advice from Carmen-Jones on improving race relations: stand in the breach and continue to push things forward; do not be thrown off or discouraged by disappointment and setbacks. Keep making refinements and reframing healthy conversations along the way. And embrace a unified paradigm that we really are better—together.