Building Relationships and Increasing Understanding Beyond Racial and Cultural Differences

Feb 16, 2021 | Lifestyle, Relationships

Create better relationships, celebrate diversity and inclusion, deeper understanding, and broaden your connections when you open your heart… and make meaningful change, one conversation at a time.

Sisters who discuss diversity and inclusion on their "Let's Talk Sis" channels, from Fun Cheap or Free

Hi, we’re Alexis and Chante of Let’s Talk Sis! We are sisters and we love talking about a variety of things. We are passionate, caring, expressive, and can go from light banter to deep conversation in seconds! When we talk, our hands are flying, we have a whole range of facial expressions, and can get loud, intense, and giggly! We don’t always agree but we always have great conversations. 

As little girls, we were referred to as “the black girls” because we were the only black girls around.  We grew up in an area with very little diversity. In our community, topics surrounding racism or differences were usually dismissed or avoided. We feel that if we would have been able to talk about it, it really would have helped us navigate some of the hard experiences we faced. Now as mothers, we still feel like the conversation is dismissed and yet is so vitally important. We see how biased beliefs about race and differences negatively affect our own children and so many other children. 

Alexis has a background in Sociology and Chante in Psychology and Dance. We both have worked as speakers, trainers, and presenters for a number of non-profit organizations on a national and international scale. We are passionate about opening up the conversation surrounding race, diversity, and inclusion. We believe that in order to connect on a deeper level and create stronger and more authentic relationships, we need to understand our differences and have open safe communication in order to find our similarities.  

At Let’s Talk Sis we believe in action and making change. We encourage our followers to start in their hearts, homes, and communities. We have created a space where we try to leave shame behind and lead with our hearts as we learn, act, and connect.


Our experiences shape our perspective of the world 

We each have individual life experiences that shape our perspective and our view of the world. It’s important to note that where we live, our socio-economic status, race, culture, gender, and religion all play a part in shaping how we see the world. Our lived experiences can't always apply to someone else's lived experience. It can ultimately lead to more bias and that is NOT helping us on the path to human connection! 

So, we have to be willing to learn, listen, and feel the stories of others. If we only take our personal perspective and try to apply it to all lived experiences, we might miss opportunities to understand, connect and ultimately build bridges between different groups and communities. 

 It's important to ask ourselves these questions when engaging in a conversation surrounding different beliefs and experiences.

  • Is this a safe conversation with a mutual desire for understanding?
  • Are we willing to offer the same respect and desire to understand others as we would want to be understood? 
  • Are we willing to look at things from another’s perspective?  

As we make an effort to approach conversation and learn about races, cultures, and religions different than our own, we will be more prepared to teach our children to value and see others’ lived experiences and perspectives. We will have a desire to move towards understanding, finding common ground, and rooting out racism.  


Don’t shy away from conversation about the important stuff

Kids have questions, lots of questions! They want to learn and understand the world around them. They notice details, differences, and things that are new to them. It is normal for children to want to categorize and organize the world based on matching similarities.

With that said, kids will inevitably notice the diversity of those around them. Some children will feel comfortable asking questions and other children will quietly make inferences about what they see. We have to remember that silence is the loudest teacher and if we are not having conversations with our children, they will interpret on their own using their childlike understanding.

It’s human nature to fear what we don’t know and if we don't teach our children, someone or something will and it probably won’t be how we want them to learn it. For example, a child hears someone say black people are bad or implies that belief, and if their parents don’t speak of race or they don’t have loved ones of a different race, the child may believe what they heard to be true.

As parents, our job is to open up natural and comfortable conversations around many topics including those of race and diversity. Make diversity a natural and NORMAL part of your child’s world. We never want our children to start to view diversity as abnormal or wrong.

We can create conversation and normalize diversity by introducing our children to other races and cultures through: 

  • Books
  • Movies
  • Art 
  • Cultural events

Let’s talk about skin color 

Discussing some of the straightforward aspects of diversity, like skin color, can be a great place to start. Skin color is as normal as the diversity of nature and it can be talked about with the same ease as we talk about the beautiful colors of different flowers.

Because we come from a multiracial family, we have lots of opportunities to talk about the difference in skin colors.  We love to talk about our ancestors and the regions in the world they came from. We discuss melanin and how it can protect our skin from the sun. We talk about the regions in the world where more melanin was needed and what ancestors we have that are from those regions.

We love to learn about different places but also bring it back and connect it to our family history and the history of our friends. This helps our kids feel connected and a part of the human race. We always want to help kids understand that difference is normal and difference is good.  

Kids are curious, they love to know the whys behind the different phenomenons of our world… So let’s break it down into three easy lessons on how to teach about skin color.

  1. Biology! Let's give our kids a little biology lesson and talk about melanin! Melanin is the main reason for our varying shades of skin. Melanin is a pigment which causes a variety of colors in our hair and skin.
  2. Geography! This leads us into a little geography lesson. Those who live closer to the equator will have more melanin because it is a natural protector against the sun’s rays! And those who live farther away from the equator will have less melanin. 
  3. Family history! Kids love to learn a little bit about their family history and where their ancestors originated from. They may be able to see a direct correlation with their own skin color and their ancestors.

Recognize biased thoughts and beliefs

What is bias? To keep it simple, bias can happen when we favor some ideas or even people over others usually in a way considered to be unfair. Bias can be conscious (explicit) or unconscious (implicit). The truth is, if you are human, you have bias. It’s that simple. What isn’t quite as simple is recognizing and getting rid of those biased thoughts or beliefs. Biases are giant roadblocks to human connection and authentic relationships. So, we have to put in the work to recognize and change those thoughts! 

Children are extremely perceptive. Often they can see right through us (which can be a little unnerving)! Because kids are so aware, they can and do pick up and internalize our thoughts, judgments, and biases. Pretty sure bias shouldn’t be on the list of things we want to pass down to our kiddos! So, let’s just be open! Let’s show them this process of recognizing and walking away from personal bias.

It is healthy for kids to know that their parents aren’t perfect, but that their parents are trying to improve and be better. As you discover and uncover some of your own implicit bias, make it a teaching opportunity. Talk openly with your children about your negative beliefs, show them why those beliefs are harmful to others, and let them witness your efforts in developing new perspectives! 

One of our favorite ways to start off this journey of recognizing bias is to look for the element of surprise and then ask ourselves why it shocked or surprised us. For example: 

  • You don't like to cook and clean? I thought all women enjoyed being homemakers!
  • You’re black and athletic but you don’t play sports? I thought all athletic black people played sports.

As we are working toward recognizing these biased thoughts, here are a few more questions we can ask ourselves.

  • Why did that shock or surprise me? 
  • What underlying belief do I have about these people or this situation?
  •  Where does this biased thought or belief come from? 
  •  Was it passed down from my parents?
  •  Have you had a negative experience with a certain group of people? 
  •  Is it a stereotype I learned from TV or media?  

What can I do?

“What can I do” is something we get asked all the time. First, having more awareness and a desire to learn more about others is an important place to start. It is hard to know what you can do to help any situation without understanding it. Get involved and get out of your comfort zone. 

  • Start a virtual book club about race or different cultures
  • Take a culture, sociology, or language class
  • Volunteer in a community outside of your own
  • Support cultural community events 
  • Look into what your local university or college has to offer as to cultural events
  • Learn as a family about different races, cultures, and food 
  • Travel if you are able and do research before you go
  • Learn history from different perspectives
  • Diversify your circle
  • As a family, read books, watch movies, and keep open conversation around differences and racism.
  • Make a commitment to not allow racist jokes in your presence — interrupt racism in all its forms
  • Make sure your children understand why racist jokes and language are harmful

We hope that this will help you in your desire to create better relationships, deeper understanding, and create diverse connections.

Love, 
LET’S TALK SIS

Alexis and Chante’


ABOUT ALEXIS & CHANTE’

Alexia and Chantel, of Let's Talk Sis, from Fun Cheap or Free

Alexis and ChantĂ© @letstalk_sis have created an Instagram platform where they seek to bring awareness to difficult topics – specifically race, diversity, and inclusion – to promote dialogue and initiate positive change.  They are committed to making change through connection and humanity one conversation at a time.

Both Alexis, whose background is in sociology, and ChantĂ© whose background is in psychology, have spent the past 20 years advocating for youth in a variety of platforms including inclusion and diversity, education, empowerment, safety, leadership, career development, and self-esteem as well as working to make schools and communities safer. They have been keynote speakers/presenters/panelists at national and international conferences and served on the board of international organizations.

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