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Monday, July 4, 2016

Improving race relations involves overcoming our fears of "the other" and learning more about "the other" with an attitude of curiosity and respect.

Dr. Kenneth Hardy speaks at the 2016 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium on March 18, 2016 on "The View Of Black America". He describes some very important ideas in this brief video clip which only lasts about 6 3/4 minutes.

 He describes the "assaulted sense of self" in which black parents described their children in terms of what they are not such as "not a bad kid," "not in a gang,", "doesn't wear baggy pants," instead of in terms of what they are as white parents do.

Hardy says that black kids are aware of race at age three while white kids may not become aware of race until they are 20 or 33. This early awareness annoys white people who ask black people, "Why to do you always bring up race?" It's because it has been a conscious issue for black people much longer in their lives than for white people and, as Hardy, says, black people bring up race because white people don't.

Hardy points out that with the brutalization of the black body by police, black people experience devaluation when they see Michael Brown's body left in the street in Ferguson for over 4 hours indicating a lack of dignity and respect not only for Michael Brown's corpse but for his family and community.

 I have, over the course of my career, been to plenty of workshops and classes on cultural diversity with the intention of enhancing the cultural competence of service providers. A lot of these efforts such as "sensitivity training" and "raising people's consciousnesses" has been well intended but also ineffective.

The most important thing I have learned over the years is what is called the Platinum rule as distinguished from the Golden rule. The Golden rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," while the Platinum rule is "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them." In order to practice the Platinum rule, the person must know the other person's values, beliefs, practices, and preferences. This requires curiosity and courage to put oneself into unfamiliar culture and relationships. Many people are too frightened to extend themselves outside their comfort zones and so the major challenge in improving race relations is overcoming our fears of "the other."

 

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