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Speaking of Race

Constructive Conversations About an Explosive Topic

By Patricia Roberts-Miller

From a scholar of communication, a guide to healing our fractured discourse on race and racism by infusing the topic with more constructive and enriching dialogue

It’s happened to virtually all of us: Someone calls something “racist,” and you’re not sure you agree. (Or someone calls you racist, and you definitely don’t agree.) But before you say anything—before the argument escalates, as it almost always does, leaving everyone upset—professor of rhetoric Patricia Roberts-Miller would like to talk to you about how we talk about race.

Roberts-Miller believes that these potentially explosive conversations are, in fact, opportunities to bring us together—if we have them constructively. In this concise, pocket-size guide, she explains exactly how to do so: Rather than fall into the all-too-common traps of discussing personal identity, intentions, and emotions, we need to keep focused on actions. We can’t assume that everyone has the same idea of racism—they don’t—and so, Roberts-Miller provides a helpful working definition. In short, Speaking of Race teaches us to talk about racism the way an expert of rhetoric does. We may find that it makes our polarized world more eloquent—and less racist.

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Patricia Roberts-Miller

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January 19, 2021