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Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence

Sunday, January 10, 2016 11:00 pm EST

Unspoken social rules determine much of what we say and do at home, at school, and at work with clients and coworkers. Often, these rules are good for society—they allow us to get along with one another in the world. But occasionally, these hidden rules have a detrimental impact, and in those situations the rules must be brought to light and eliminated. In avoiding this emotionally charged topic, we usually have good intentions—a concern for politeness, a desire not to offend—but Dr. Derald Wing Sue's research has shown that we do far more harm than good when we stay silent about race.

Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence is an enlightening account of why we still see race as a taboo discussion topic, how our silence harms us, and what we can do to change uncomfortable conversations into productive dialogs. Educators in K–12 and higher education, trainers, mental health and professionals, and parents will appreciate this book's frankness and foundation in scientific evidence.

Learning to talk about race is crucial if we hope to achieve the equal society that has long been part of the American mythos. Each one of us, through our everyday interactions with each other and the example we provide for the next generation, can contribute to this hallmark of social justice. In Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence, a concrete set of guidelines and solutions for engaging in honest racial dialogue will help educators, parents, and trainers become agents of change by bringing the issue of race to light in a positive manner.

The tacit rules surrounding race talk are more numerous than many people suppose. Without knowing it, we use a number of different strategies to evade the topic, often under the premise that we are "colorblind." Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence exposes these avoidance strategies as the fallacies they are. Readers will also discover why being polite about race—in other words, ignoring the subject—is actually harmful to Whites and people of color alike. This book teaches concrete strategies for identifying and breaking bad habits so that we can break the silence on the issue of race and benefit from meaningful race talk.

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DERALD WING SUE has been identified as "the most influential multicultural scholar in the United States." He has authored 17 books, including the classic Microaggressions in Everyday Life. Dr. Sue's research on microaggressions provided a major breakthrough in understanding how everyday slights, insults, and invalidations toward marginalized groups create psychological and social harm. He is Professor of Psychology and Education in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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