My church friend and I were only about 7 years old when she leaned over in my ear and whispered, “Sometimes black people are so … scary.”
We were standing in the hallway of the rented central New Jersey auditorium where we had church services. It was a diverse congregation – much more so than my suburban neighborhood – and a bunch of black kids had run by us, laughing and shouting, raucous in play.
It was the start of my first conversation about race. I can still remember the shock of that moment, the twist in my stomach at the word “scary”.
Conversations About Race
Of course, my friend was parroting what she’d heard from grown ups. Despite the diversity of our particular congregation, our church as a whole had a history of doctrinal racism. But I didn’t know that at the time.
All I knew was that my friend’s words didn’t match what I’d experienced. The doting, matronly women in our church – many of whom were people of color – gave me big hugs every week. They were the opposite of scary.
So in a rare, bold move, I gave voice to my feelings. I stumbled over the words, but I said them: “Um … I don’t think … I think … people can be any color, and … you know … be okay.”
As I spoke those halting, clumsy words, I felt a sense of celebration in my core.
But that moment of speaking out was the exception, not the rule. In the years that followed, I missed many more opportunities to have the tough conversations about race.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Deep down, I know that I still have a lot to learn.
I have blind spots when it comes to my privilege as a white woman. And sometimes I’m scared to say the wrong thing, so I don’t say anything. I need to connect with those who have been in the trenches of tough conversations.
That’s one reason why I was so glad to meet Krystle Cobran.
Who Is Krystle Cobran?
Krystle helps humans create connection and belonging through conversations about race.
Using her experience as a consultant, attorney, writer, storyteller, and designer and teacher of undergraduate courses on race & the law, Krystle walks with her clients through the sticky points of talking about race to help them have conversations that connect instead of divide.
My friend and mentor Rachel Stafford (Hands Free Mama) wrote to me about Krystle, saying, “I know you two would have so much to talk about … Every podcast I listen to of hers, I learn something profound. She is amazing and can offer the world so much.”
So I set up an interview with Krystle, and I’m thrilled to share that conversation with you today. (Though I typically do interviews as part of a formal series, I did this one as a bonus give. May it bless your life as it has blessed mine!)
Stop Tip-Toeing and Start Talking About Race
In our 46 minute interview, Krystle and I covered …
- Why the lack of a shared language stops us from talking about race
- Why it’s so important to focus on listening in conversations about race
- The tremendous power of trust and relationship as the foundation for our discussions
- “The tiny question that shifts difficult conversations from impossible to doable”
- How to gracefully maintain healthy boundaries during tough interactions
Click here to watch our interview, or press play below.
Get Your Bonus Gifts!
Update: Krystle is now offering TWO free audio trainings:
- How to Create Authentic Connection (Even When You’re Afraid)
- 3 Tools for Talking about Race with Kids.
- Get them both right here.
I (Caroline) am offering a free Perfectionist Recovery Toolkit, a whole bundle to support you in trading perfectionism for possibility.
Yours with gratitude,