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Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  340 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Learn to talk about race openly, honestly, and productively Most people avoid discussion of race-related topics because of the strong emotions and feelings of discomfort that inevitably accompany such conversations. Rather than endure the conflict of racial realities, many people choose instead to avoid the topic altogether, or remain silent when it is raised. Race Talk an ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 21st 2015 by Wiley (first published January 14th 2015)
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Sahil Shah
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I had two big takeaways from this book:

The concept of ethnocentric monoculturalism: that White Western culture exists as the only possible form of valid culture, and the experiential reality of people of color is not reality-there’s no place for lived experience and emotions in the “marketplace of ideas." I like how Derald Wing Sue explains the differences in communication styles among cultures and exactly how Western White culture purposefully invalidates each. Now that I notice how woven ethno
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The good: Gave me a lot of important things to think about in participating in and facilitating race conversations. In particular, I'm continuing to wrestle with the ideas of the academic protocol and the politeness protocol as potential barriers to honest conversation.

The bad: Seriously repetitive. As in, one particular long block quote appeared THREE times in the book. The book needed a good copy editor.

No ugly! I highly recommend this.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, facilitation
What are the main ideas?

* cultural differences between racial groups contributes to the fundamental difficulty of talking about race
* awareness of how the cultural differences conflict can allow a skilled facilitator to support a group to have meaningful race talk
* making the implicit ground rules of race talk explicit can help shift power dynamics and make race talk actually happen instead of be avoided or prematurely shut down
* only by having succcessful race talk (which will lead to internal
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very important read for any educator that facilitates discussions on race. A nice blend of theoretical and practical.
Miso Kwak
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the most comprehensive books on race and facilitating conversations on race. I will be returning to this book when I need guidance on the topics covered in the book.
Nathan Reed
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to learn how to have open and real conversations on race. Dr. Sue brings insight on what to expect when one decides to become more anti-racist and how to navigate hard race topics that are imperative to have if one truly desires to combat racism, racist thinking and implicit bias. I can't recommend this book enough for anyone that is on the journey to being anti-racist. ...more
Alissa Hattman
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This text is a good resource for facilitating (and participating in) conversations on race. Sue starts by detailing the dynamics of race talk with an exploration into narratives and counter-narratives. Sections two through four focus on common stereotypes, how people try to avoid conversations about race, and the reasons why it is difficult to talk about race. Section five offers group considerations for dialogue and the book ends with practical and concrete guidelines, conditions, and solutions ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Although the primary utilization of this book is centered on the psychological aspects of racial dialogues viz. “race talk,” it also exposes the irrational fears, attitudes, and beliefs, inherent in our (The United States) society. It is about the persistent avoidance of honest dialogues on race that may uncover the true inequalities and injustices inflicted on people of color. What talking about race does is open the dialogue and allow a view of the lived experience of those who suffer from opp

This book does exactly what it says, it prepares you for discussions on race. Most of the book examines what causes discussions on race, which necessarily give space to narratives of people of color (counter-narratives) to be sidetracked by the White narrative (predominant narrative). It discusses white identity from the perspective as a narrative. It describes what types of emotions and behaviors exists and how responses to that behavior usually invalidate experiences of other races. The book p ...more
Erika Harlitz-Kern
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence by Derald Wing Sue is primarily aimed at university faculty wishing to learn how to address issues of race and racism in their classroom in a constructive way. Each chapter begins with a vignette that illustrates different situations where race talk has caused friction and conflict between individuals and groups. The chapter that follows contains a discussion on the issues raised by the vignette.

Whereas someone not interested in constructive race talk prob
Roberto Castro
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This has some good material and insight, but the delivery is very academic and it is quite a struggle sometimes to stay with the audio reader. I recommend the book, but warn that the audio version, needs to be revamped and made more "friendly".

The takeaways for me where better handling individuals that fail to see the advantages that they have and blame others (Hispanics, blacks, asians, American Indians, and other people of color) for their low socio economic standing and do not get that this p
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! I didn't think anything could topple White Fragility from the top of my antiracism book collection, but I found Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence to be more practical and actionable - specifically for educators and people working with students.

I read the book as part of a university-wide book club, and it was fantastic to get to dive into the messages of each chapter in more detail. There's a lot to unpack within this book and so
I recommend this book to anyone facing the task of talking about race. Everyone.
It is not a quick read, it is not a quick fix. We’re dealing with humanity here, not mechanics.
There is no one answer for every problem or breakdown in discussion. Avoidance can be so slight, so nuanced. This book guides the reader to think about how to create successful dialogue on race. Success depends on a lot of factors. This book is helpful at making the participant aware of them.
Several other reviews have said
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Difficult to read because of the self examination it instigates, the complex topic, and constant interruption of the flow of the text by parenthetical listing of references (as opposed to a letter or number referring to the references placed at the bottom of the page or the end of the chapter. Added to the challenging concepts, it added one more frustration or annoyance to reading. One of my major take-aways was the differences in cultural values and styles of conversation, and how that makes fo ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had seen this book referenced a number of times in various books on race and racial equity trainings I've been to recently, so I thought it would be important for me to read it myself. Sue does an excellent job crystallizing many nebulous concepts of white privilege and white supremacy that are often invisible to white people. He also gives suggestions for how to talk about race with others. I'm considering purchasing a copy so that I can use it as reference. ...more
Kate Schwarz
Excellent book on the importance of race talk--discussions between Whites and minority groups, including Black, Asian, and Latino/a groups. Sue dives in to the reasons why discussions like these are fraught with emotion and baggage, explains why race talk has not happened/is not happening as much as it should be, explains the integral importance of these discussions, then offers guidelines as to how to facilitate conversations about race. This is a must read for parents and educators.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting perspective from Sue. This book was certainly written for White people to visit an uncomfortable conversation. It’s really not feasible that Sue will reach those who need it because he’s essentially preaching to the choir. At some points in the book he makes stereotypical claims as well, so part of it can come off as hypocritical. Overall, interesting.
Sean Sechrist
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was somewhat familiar with topics like systemic racism, whiteness, white privilege, and white fragility before reading this book. But this book invited me to reflect more deeply on them, which initially made me feel defensive and uncomfortable. As I progressed, however, I've gained a much better appreciation for the issues and how to talk about them. ...more
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I learned a lot from this book about how I might possibly assist with difficult conversations about race as well as why those conversations are both necessary and important. That said, however, the book was often repetitive and seemed to leap from topic to topic without cohesive transitions. I struggled with that because this is a subject that I am earnestly trying to learn more about.
A Powerful book that really gets to the heart of why talking about race is so difficult. Sue presents helpful strategies to facilitate and understand one another better. There's so much content that I was to intake- my copy of the book is permeated with book flag. This is a book that I will turn to repeatedly. ...more
April Callis
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
This book is a phenomenal introduction to race and racism in the United States. Derald Wing Sue breaks down the coded ways that we are taught to talk about race, and the ways that these patterns of communication uphold white supremacy. The book is approachable enough for a new anti-racist ally, but is also extremely helpful for individuals facilitating trainings on privilege and microaggressions.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are well along your journey in understanding talk about race you can skip to the last two chapters. If you aren't in a community that has Courageous Conversations, then it would be worth reading it all. ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of a faculty development program and between the book and the structured discussed it was profound. Really difficult in some sections but it has certainly made me think and view my day to day thoughts behaviors and actions in a different way.
Nicollette Buckle
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about racial identity development which helped to give context to resistance and conflict I’ve experienced as an advocate for equity in higher education. It was well written but tough to read at points because of the subject matter.
Josh Frost
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really great read about the psychology & emotions behind race talk, particularly for White people. Although, discussion of how to facilitate race talk though seemed limited to the last chapter & focused on a multiracial classroom setting. Still a very informative read though.
Leanna Aker
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend for educators or parents looking for ways to facilitate effective dialogues about race. Lots of concrete examples of typical exchanges and though provoking questions to consider about each.
M. Hansell
A good explanation of factors that inhibit open discussions of race. Contains useful strategies for facilitating discussions, avoiding traps which end discussions and methods for successfully moving forward.
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a DEI book club and found it helpful in educating myself on how to be a better ally. The conversations and quotes provided by Dr. Sue made the subject matter easier to understand and more realistic - he didn’t just offer statistics and vague hypothetical scenarios.
Teddi Kalb
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you're willing and ready to explore your own personal biases, beliefs, and whiteness, this book is a must towards engaging and facilitating meaningful dialogues around race. ...more
Aubrey Simonson
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was basically a highly effective summary of an entire intro race relations class.
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Derald Wing Sue is a professor of counseling psychology at Columbia University. He has authored several books, including Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice, Overcoming our Racism, and Understanding Abnormal Behavior.

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