Over the past few months I’ve had lots of opportunities to talk about The Two Chairs and the discrimination issues that we are tackling. Some are excited, some add their own personal stories, some tell me about their special friend that they can call the “n” word (ugh). There’s one particular group that I wanted to write about though: the ones we can teach.
When we start talking about The Two Chairs, it’s as though they develop a speech impediment. They start talking slower, pausing between words to make sure that they’re not about to say something insensitive. They start using awkward, unnatural phrases like “persons of ethnicity”.
After this happened a few times I finally worked out what was happening. They’re afraid I’m looking for an opportunity to leap over the table, grab them by the collar and yell triumphantly that I had managed to catch a racist out!
Well there’s a few reasons why that won’t happen. First off, I have a dodgy knee and I’m not likely to leap over anything bigger than a footstool. The second, bigger reason is that I recognise the fear for what it is: a genuine desire to do right by other people. And that it is great! I want to encourage and grow that, because that feeling is precisely what the world needs more of.
I do want to get rid of that stilted, unnatural speech and have a genuine conversation with you though. Maybe I should acknowledge that I’ve made mistakes myself, through insensitivity and ignorance, which have hurt people. Maybe it’s acknowledging that these conversations are a learning opportunity, and that more exposure to these stories will result in more comfort with these issues. Or I can swear a solemn oath that we’re not on a witch hunt, and will never call you bad names if there is a slip up.
If you’re not sure if something is racist, or have a question, or just generally have something to say, then chip in. There’s the comments below, you can contact us here, or on Facebook or Twitter. Come join our conversation!