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Can door-to-door conversations between white people about race help?

Aug 15, 2016

The Next Idea

In an era when it seems much of the country is in a face-off over race, from Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter, how do we talk about race or even change attitudes about race?

The latest contributor to The Next Idea is Rebecca Gray from Michigan United who is trying a new idea in Downriver Wayne County. It's a new race canvass effort. White people talking to white people about race. The strategy is intended to get white voters thinking about race and racism in a good old-fashioned door-to-door approach.

According to Gray, when someone answers the door to find someone representing Michigan United, the first question each person is asked is, "How do you feel in conversations when race comes up?"

From there, the goal is to make people feel comfortable expressing themselves about the issue of race. Gray says while this is a good old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing effort, it won't be what you're used to from salespeople or religious outreach efforts. According to Gray, rattling off a script is not an good way to communicate with people on a deeper level. So Michigan United is using an anti-script approach. Each conversation starts with the same question but where it goes from there is largely up to the answers each person provides.  

Listen to the full interview below with Gray to hear why they chose Downriver, how long they plan to keep this effort going and what the ultimate goal is.

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