Being Genuine: Candid Conversations about Race

Recently, I was lucky enough to have this thoughtful email appear in my inbox.

Hi Deedee,
I wondered if I could ask for your advice?
Amy and I would like to responsibly and sensitively address the protests
and the need for white people to educate themselves with books. We were
thinking about inviting a black professor from the Pan-African Studies
program at U of L to talk about black literature or maybe a small local
black publisher. (We know you fit into this category, but we were
planning to have you on closer to the Louisville Book Festival to
promote that for you.)
However, we also understand that at the moment black people may not feel
like having that discussion with white people because it feels like they
are having to educate and make it easier for white folks.
We would appreciate any suggestions you have.
My response:
Thank you so much- not just for wanting to speak up or to do something, but for your sensitive approach.
Black people can always feel when a white person is genuine and we really need white people to speak up right now.
You may have seen the signs/ hashtags: No More White Silence and Silence is Violence.
We need you to have this discussion.
We need white people to talk to white people because quite frankly they will not listen to us. They do not listen to us. Even when they believe in the Black Lives Matter movement- if it hits too close to home- they will no longer listen to the Black experience. This is the truth and it just happened to me recently on my own Facebook feed.
It does sometimes feel like Black people have to educate white people. The truth is, that can be tiring.
But the truth also is that white people can only learn some things from listening to Black people. So, overall I would say that you are creating a platform to educate white people and to give voice to the Black experience through the discussion of books. And this is important.
I have had literally dozens of white people say they want to “do something,” but don’t know what or how. Being willing to educate yourself- and then talk about it- will be one of the most powerful things any one person can do.
Thank you for wanting to do this. Thank you for caring about how it comes off. Thank you for speaking up.
If your heart is genuine– and I know that it is– you will not go wrong.

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About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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