Dear Auntie. I’m a Native girl primarily dating White men or men who are of different races and white presenting. I can’t help but feel a connection to our colonized traumatic past. How do I talk to my partners about this racial divide, if I should?
It is challenging to address these complex conversations, but it is important that we have these conversations with everyone we are in a relationship with. Thank you for the bravery it takes to have these courageous conversations.
For people from different ethnicities to talk about racism, two things should be in place:
- Speaking to one another with respect and care for the other person’s inherent humanity
- Active listening with the intent to leave the dialogue with a better grasp of the other person’s point of view
Without these, even with the best intentions, the conversation will invariably turn into an argument with one person feeling marginalized and the other personally attacked.
Prep for the Convo
I would suggest that you write down what you want to share and practice with a friend first. It might be helpful to have a series of conversations, rather than just one BIG conversation. Break down what you want to talk about and think about what outcome you would like. You can start by defining what racism is and how it has impacted you, specifically around what you state as a “colonized traumatic past”. I would start with defining what racism is and go from there. One definition is
“irrational beliefs about a particular race + discriminatory actions against a particular race + power = racism”.
Be Kind & Know You Can Exit the Convo Anytime
I also find it helpful when having challenging conversations to not attack someone for what they are saying, but say something like “what comes up for me when you say XYZ, is ABC”. But if someone is saying things that make you uncomfortable or unsafe and are not respecting your feelings, you are welcome to say this and end the conversation.