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During the first exercise, I asked you to look in the mirror and find out who looked back at you. Part of the goal of that exercise was to discover your own thoughts about yourself before looking outwards to other people. This intentional self-reflexive moment sought to push you to confront the racialized person in the mirror (even of you do not consider yourself a member of a particular racial group, society often does). As much as many of us would like to live beyond race (or other markers of difference), our societies tend to have other ideas. Categories of difference are used around the world as a way to separate and segment people into various hierarchical strands. To understand those categories, we have to be prepared not to just look at other people; we also have to be prepared to look at ourselves. What kinds of privileges do you have in a world segmented along lines of difference? How can one positively claim an identity that other people negatively castigate on a daily basis? How can we all learn to live with peace if our hearts are filled with either fear or confusion?

These are tough questions, but we need to take on the tough task of answering them. Part of this weighty responsibility lies in not shying away from uncertainty, confusion, disappointment (especially in ourselves), or contradictions. One of the difficulties of talking about racial categories and the ways these categories have led to (or some would say been led by) racism, is the fact that what we see today is not necessarily the same racial system of yesterday. For example, for a time, in America, people from Ireland, Italy, and Greece were considered people of another race when compared to people born in England. There has been some interesting research examining the ways that various Italian and Irish individuals worked to actually become white in the United States. And people of African descent have, at various times, been known more so in the Americas for what tribe they belong to than the continent that they came from. I could create a similar historical account for various Native American communities, or people from other locations around the world. The point is not to track every single group, but to recognize that difference means different things at different times-even if these differences have often been used for negative purposes.

To understand these differences, and even possibly transcend them, we need to understand the past. We also need to talk about it, to understand how we got here-no matter where here is. To do this, we need to revisit our first exercise. Some responses highlighted the significant role that families have played in peoples' understanding of race. There were even some responses that showcased the difficulty in knowing about this issue when families are silent or perhaps silenced (as when family members are absent from one's life.)

Yet, what we can see is the fact that our connection to our family matters. The people who have touched our lives matter. As a result, looking into a mirror at ourselves actually reflects the images of those whose lives have touched ours. We are not alone.

In order to hear the other voices beside you, I want you to ask questions. Select a family member, friend, or trusted confidante and talk to them about who they see in the mirror, and how society has categorized them. Ask questions. And listen. The goal at this stage is not to confront, blame, ridicule, or embarrass the person you are interviewing. And that may be a difficult stance if you choose to interview someone you know or suspect of having intense views about race. While they may be the best people to interview, the real question is whether you have the emotional (or even physical) strength to withstand it. Although I want to push everyone to enlarge this conversation about race, I also want everyone who chooses to engage in this exercise to feel comfortable and safe. That means that you have to consider who you would like to talk to for this project. If you choose to talk to someone that you have an intense relationship with, you may need to give yourself some strict rules, such as working from a script. Write down a list of key questions modeled on the first exercise. Ask them and pay attention to the responses. Then, rather than reporting the interview in detail, I want you to consider the responses in light of your own. Did anything surprise you? What did you learn about the person that you are interviewing that you never suspected? What did the interview help clarify for you about your own upbringing? What differences or similarities did you find between both of your encounters with race?

Before you start this, I want you to think about what this kind of moment could entail. You do have options. You could conduct this interview face-to-face. You could also talk to your interviewee over the phone, in a letter, or in an e-mail. How you talk to your interviewee depends on how much time you want to set aside for this activity and the comfort level between all parties.

In your reporting back, consider how you would like to talk about this conversation to the board. We have started a conversation based on respect and honesty. Try to keep this perspective even as you engage with others. This is a time to learn. If, though, you feel that you have to respond to your interviewee after the interview, send something privately to them or set up a later meeting. Take time to reflect on what happened, and consider how you want to turn this conversation into a teachable moment.
 
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