By becoming more aware of challenges that Black people face, members of the ag industry can move towards greater diversity and equality
By Kate Ayers
As more voices seek to address racial inequality, people across North America – including in ag communities – may wonder how they can best contribute to the efforts underway.
The first step is to listen to Black peoples’ perspectives and self-educate about challenges they face. Then, members of the ag industry can discuss the presence of individual and systemic racism in society overall and in the sector.
Before starting a conversation about today’s issues, try to understand your audience. Reflect on their stance on anti-racism initiatives and consider their knowledge of current and past issues. This insight can help you shape your talking points and delivery strategy to shift their mindsets towards positive action, an article by The Opportunity Agenda said.
The Opportunity Agenda is a social justice communication platform that helps leaders share narratives and messages that drive policy and culture change, the group’s website said.
Familiarize yourself with potential counternarratives. Plan how to respond calmly and rationally. Argumentative conversations tend to be unconstructive, so a better approach is to try to understand a person’s stance and the perspectives behind his or her position.
When you feel ready to talk with someone about racial justice and promote action in support of anti-racism movements, introduce the conversation with a reference to shared values, the article said. This approach helps your audience become more open to your message, the article said. Avoid broaching the discussion with dry facts, fear, aggression, or anxiety.
Then, you can highlight how racial equity and inclusion will help ensure the industry reaches its full potential. All members of the sector can benefit. Using values as a bridge can help people have a more solution-oriented mindset, the article said.
Next, you can talk about the systemic nature of racism and the long-term oppression of Black people.
Today’s racial injustice and inequality are products of centuries of policies, white supremacy, and implicit biases. It is important to discuss the history (cause) and how past actions affect today’s society (outcome), the article said. To discuss this topic, a conversation framework could include, values, problem, solution, and action.
While these conversations may be uncomfortable and difficult to navigate, ensure you remain solution oriented and forward looking throughout discussions, the article said. Address the issues at hand and how they developed over time, but move quickly to a consideration of solutions. When possible, connect challenges to positive opportunities, solutions, and actions. Provide clarity on who is responsible for acting.
You could also mention the broad range of significant ripple effects that result from racism. It may be a cause of chronic stress and mental health challenges for Black people, studies show. Point to differences between racial and socioeconomic inequalities.
For example, “African-American pregnant women are two to three times more likely to experience premature birth and three times more likely to give birth to a low birthweight infant. This disparity persists even after controlling for factors, such as low income, low education, and alcohol and tobacco use,” a 2004 American Journal of Public Health article said.
In addition, you could mention the negative effects that racial bias and discrimination have on society, The Opportunity Agenda article said. Equal opportunity for all contributes to economic wellbeing and overall improved functionality of society.
Change will not happen overnight. But having frank and honest conversations can help open the door for progress.
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