Dr. Patricia Arredondo and Dr. Courtland Lee
When we were in graduate school in the late 70’s and early 80s, there were three taboo topics that were never addressed in our Counseling and Psychology training programs. These were religion, sexual orientation, and race. Invariably, we had clients in psychotherapy who were of a visible racial identity, i.e., Asian, Black, and White. Intake forms rarely inquired about religion or sexual orientation signaling an invisibility of these social identities. Though some 40 years have passed, we know that conversations about race and racism in most settings are a challenge, however, it has become apparent that stories about racism are news headlines throughout the country. That is, we are all bearing witness to these reports about racial discrimination, law enforcement being called on a Black man suspected of some infraction, and the senseless assaults and murders of Black citizens. Though we may not be in Louisville, Minneapolis, or Chicago, racial discord and racism affect all of us. It is obvious that the country has entered a new period of racial reckoning that has spawned increased levels of dialogue.
There are two physical settings where individuals of differing and similar social identities are most likely to come together– classrooms and the workplace. We know that talking about racism at work requires courage and commitment to not have it be a one-time, often contentious, conversation, so we suggest a couple of approaches.