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The Dangers of Not Speaking About Race

The Dangers of Not Speaking About Race

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A Summary of Research Affirming the Merits of a Color-Conscious Approach to Racial Communication and Equity.

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity has a number of projects that engage the question of how most effectively to address issues of race justice. In some of our work we specifically examine how people talk about race and how such conversations impact their behavior. In other work we look at how issue “frames” operate. And in still other projects we look at the efficacy of using classbased or universal policy approaches to racial matters. These projects cover large and complicated conceptual territory; our findings are sometimes counterintuitive.

It is impossible to quickly summarize all of this work, much of it ongoing. What we can say at this point is that context, audience, and environment all matter in determining how best to promote racial justice. We have found that even racial justice advocates sometimes bring an incomplete understanding of race, class, and their interaction, and that this partial understanding affects the questions they ask and the conclusions they draw about the value of their efforts.