Not only is that a great question I think it just might be the question that matters the most.
I have only ideas for answers. But I would love to hear any suggestions you might have as well.
1.) Let them talk. This can be anywhere from uncomfortable to excruciating. But it is also something we can do with our white privilege. It feels counterintuitive to listen to ignorance as though it’s legitimate. We’re afraid we’re validating it by giving it space to exist. But those of us who aren’t oppressed by systemic racism have more bandwidth to accompany people along their learning curves. If Daryl Davis can convert more than 200 clan members I can try to listen to some folks who maybe just need another perspective or more exposure.
But since none of us knows what we don’t know this calls for patience. Few of us have changed our minds because a holier-than-thou stranger wandered into our lives to tell us how wrong/stupid/heartless we are — especially if it turns out they’re right. Human ego is an enormous obstacle.
This feels like a love the sinner, hate the sin rip in time. But I don’t know what else to do.
2.) When it’s your turn to talk use that time to establish common ground instead of preaching from your end of the bell curve. Discuss anything where you might meet in the middle.
The Trump supporter closest to me had not been hanging out with us on election night. It was another two weeks before I heard from him. He knows he is the odd man out.
I listened to him. It was hard and it hurt my heart. But when it was my turn to talk, (I let him talk first), I told him all the reasons I was not a ride-or-die HRC fan. I told him I had disliked her since I was 17 and she came to speak in my hometown. I told him that despite how much I disagree with some of her allegiances and politics she was still leaps and bounds more qualified than her opponent. I listed the specific things about her and her platform I disagreed with and I listed her specific qualifications that made her uniquely and supremely qualified.
3.) I’m glad you mentioned the words “devour” and “research” because I think being as informed as possible is a non-negotiable if you stand a chance at being heard.
- Do your level best to internalize the details, stats, dates and facts. “I read something about it somewhere a few weeks back” doesn’t carry nearly the weight we need it to. Conversations aren’t as casual as they used to be. Maybe that’s a good thing.
- Read from “their” sources as well. In this bizarro world where reality is negotiated like feelings it is no longer effective to quote respected scientists, journalists or other subject-matter experts. But you stand a better chance at being heard when you quote “their” people. Although the last time I tried this every last bullet point I cited with a far-right source was refuted by a commenter I tried to engage with. It was enormously frustrating and discouraging. But even that failure had a better chance at bridging the divide than had I cited my “libtard” sources.
4.) Be prepared for the fact that you won’t reach some of them no matter how academically pure and scientifically objective your research is. A commenter on another post said something along the lines of you can’t convince someone’s mind of something other than what their gut is telling them. The gut requires little evidence. It’s easier. And evidence to the contrary is unwanted when they would rather blindly trust their gut — especially when their gut confirms what they already wanted to believe.
5.) Take solace in anything or anyone that brings you joy or gives you hope when you’re feeling discouraged. If you’re willing to do battle, so to speak, take time to recharge in the ways that work best for you ❤