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How to have an empathetic conversation with friends about racism

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The hot topic in many friendships today is the debate about Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and the recent discord and turmoil in Ferguson. These incidences have fueled new conversations over the issues of race and racism in America and what makes the conversation even more intriguing is the fact that friends of many varying cultural backgrounds are stumbling across having to address these issues on social media.

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With all the pictures, videos and news articles posted on social media pages like Facebook and Twitter it's been difficult for most friends to stay honest and authentic about how they feel in regard to the racism debate. It's a very difficult topic to have a discussion about but one of the worst things you could ever do is pretend, or even believe, for that matter that racism no longer exists.

The problem with those friends who are not of African American descent is they could never know whether or not racism is alive and active today unless someone of color who has experienced it tells them. Don't be that person who says, "get over it", turns a blind eye or is unable to be convinced its happening because its not happening to you or you haven't seen it. FYI: if you're not of African American descent its gonna fly under your radar every time. Believe those who say they've experienced it. Most people wouldn't lie about something so hurtful.

"You can't fix what you don't acknowledge" like Dr. Phil always says. One of the biggest insults about racism is everyone denies it exists, they deny they have those types of thoughts and the cycle continues. Just realize sometimes there are people (all of us) who have racist tendencies and aren't very aware they do. It's not your fault. The American society has been programmed this way. Own it and only then can the behavior be minimized.

Lastly, let's not forget that society has made great strides in overcoming the ugliness of what racism was in the past but the struggle isn't over. It's up to each individual everyday to practice loving people of all races to obliterate the ugliness that racism is. Live, love, and learn.

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