8 Misunderstood Conversations

On previous pages, I suggested that conversations about Jews, race, and slavery may contain hidden landmines regarding what happened, feelings, and identity. However, students may also have problems talking about Jews and slavery because current popular understandings of race and ethnicity “create widespread confusion and discord” (Doing Race 5). The next sequence of pages outlines four of the eight typical conversations that Moya and Markus argue Americans commonly revert to when talking about race or ethnicity and that hinder productive discussions (alias “learning conversations”). Summaries of four of these conversations are linked to below and are taken from a press release about their book Doing Race and can be found both at EON and Reuters. A more complete version is on pages 5-16 of Doing Race or you can Watch a video of the presentation here: http://vimeo.com/13468483.  The eight conversations are

  1. We’re beyond race
  2. Racial diversity is killing us
  3. Everyone’s a little bit racist
  4. That’s just identity politics
  5. It’s a black thing–you wouldn’t understand.
  6. I’m _____ and I’m proud.
  7. Variety is the spice of life.
  8. Race is in our DNA.

Moya and Markus suggest that a more useful way of understanding race and ethnicity is to think about them as something people do rather than something people are.  To read all of the conversations in full, see pages 5-16 of Doing Race.

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