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The Psychology of Racial Dialogues by Derald Wing Sue Essay

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Updated: May 1st, 2020

In his lecture on the race talk, Professor Derald Wing Sue provides the detailed discussion of the notion of racial dialogues. The main idea of Sue’s lecture is that today white professors and instructors, as well as white students, are inclined to avoid discussing the problem of the race openly in the classroom because this topic is rather difficult for them, and it makes them feel uncomfortable. As a result, color students feel the obvious discrimination and prejudice (“Race Talk in the Classroom”).

Dr. Sue notes that it is necessary to involve white and color students and instructors into the racial dialogue in order to avoid racial inequality and face the problem directly. In his speech, Dr. Sue introduces the question of racial dialogues while focusing on the examples of Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Celebrity Chef Paula Deen; discussing the concept of the racial talk; analyzing the perspectives of white students, color students, and white professors; discussing the characteristics of the racial dialogues, politeness protocol, color-blind protocol, and the idea of color blindness.

Focusing on the topic of the racial dialogues in the academic environments, Dr. Sue notes that his conclusions are based on the results of four studies conducted at Columbia University. Dr. Sue states that professors experience many difficulties while being involved in the racial talk, and they choose to make students ‘leave the cultural baggage’ outside the classroom (“Race Talk in the Classroom”).

The examples of Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, and Paula Deen demonstrate that not only educators avoid the problematic racial topics. Thus, even President Barack Obama focuses on denying racial differences in his political course while accentuating the idea of commonality. Dr. Sue notes that the biased attitudes make color people also avoid emphasizing their specific color (“Race Talk in the Classroom”). However, the problem is in the fact that the idea that whiteness is privileged only strengthens in this context.

According to Dr. Sue, professors want to develop the racial dialogues, but they do not know how to do this and avoid difficulties. At this stage of his speech, Dr. Sue introduces the concept of the race talk as the range of conversations about race and ‘whiteness’ (“Race Talk in the Classroom”). The author pays attention to the fact that the race talk is usually associated with many powerful negative emotions, and it is based on differences in opinions and racial biases.

White students refuse speaking about the race because of the fear and anxiety, and they choose to be silent. Color students perceive such avoidance as the ignorance of their realities. In their turn, white professors do all possible to avoid or control such discussions, provoking the color students’ dissatisfaction. Thus, the white community tries to ignore the “elephant in the room” (“Race Talk in the Classroom”).

As a result, racial dialogues are usually threatening conversations, and they can be offensive and associated with strong negative emotions. Furthermore, the aspects of speaking about the race depend on the politeness protocol, academic protocol, and color-blind protocol. While ignoring the color of skin or race, people are inclined only to develop oppressive and offensive interactions.

Referring to the examples from his practice, Dr. Sue points at the fact that all the attempts of the white people to avoid the race talk can lead to delusion and worsening the problem of the racial bias developed in the society. That is why, it is necessary for white professors to become involved in the racial dialogue in order to address the controversial topic of race directly and openly.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Psychology of Racial Dialogues by Derald Wing Sue'. 1 May.

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