A real-life example of how to lean-in to Brave Conversations

Bryana Clover Bry’s Thoughts

There are so many conversations I’m having recently that start with, “But, how do I know when to engage in a divisive conversation, and when to walk away?” I recently created a post on my personal Facebook Page, using a real-life example as learning-ground on this very topic. At first, I hesitated to share it as a blog post, because my intent is not to “prove a political point”, but ultimately I decided it needed to be shared. For the sole purpose of learning. Afterall, one of the pillars of 1619 Consulting’s race-equity framework is Knowledge. When we know better, we do better. And, I am always talking about leaning-in to Brave Conversations! So…here it goes:
After reflecting on a Facebook thread I recently engaged in on my personal Facebook page, I decided to use a similar practice that Rachel Elizabeth Cargle does to unpack race discourse. First, I want to emphasize that we all engage in public (and private) discourse differently. And, I do not believe there is a “one size fits all” when it comes to engaging in tough conversations. The boundaries I have created for myself personally are:
  1. Limit my public engagement on hard topics
  2. When I do engage, no name-calling or disrespect
  3. When I do engage, if it overcomes my thoughts throughout the day, disengage
  4. Pay attention to my body and my intuition
  5. When I do engage, stay true to myself
  6. When I do engage, pray for God to allow me to see and speak the truth, even when it hurts
  7. If all of the previous is true, and I believe the conversation can lead to learning, then I engage!

 

Also note: I am not reflecting on the engagement as an expert. My expertise is drawn from my own lived experiences. Please take my reflections as one person’s observation, one who is learning something new every single day. Enjoy my friends!

 

Background:
I shared a NYTimes article titled: “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance”. My caption read: “Hmmmm…” followed by an excerpt from the article:
“The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.”
See the graphic for responses I received in the “comments” section, and below for my corresponding reflections:
  1. Any sentence that starts with an accusation makes me question the respondent’s assumptions that they are making about me, even when they barely know me or the work I do.
  2. My advocacy has one core purpose: always consider those who society perpetually keeps in the margins. When one wants to give me unsolicited guidance, in a way that implies, “you should be doing ‘this’ instead of ‘that'” it leaves me skeptical. It’s a common defense I hear from those who don’t like or agree with my position on said matters. And, typically comes from people who are not willing to engage in dialogue that challenges their deeply held believes.
  3. I learn so much from my wise experts, friends, family, and acquaintances who are involved in justice work. I do not take my lessons from corporations, particularly those that are rooted in White Supremacy. And I say this fully recognizing that I have benefited from White Supremacist organizations, and my constant pursuit of dismantling the very systems that I benefit from is a part of my American-struggle.
  4. Whether we agree that his tax returns are legal or not, there are A LOT of things wrong with Trump’s tax returns. Like, factual information. I try to stay out of the emotional interpretations, but I did a lot of reading, and no matter which way you look at it, it’s sketch. And, worthy of our attention, particularly when it involves the leader of our country.
  5. Read number 4. Smart business, eh?
  6. This is a scapegoat. The causes for the US current debt situation, and for the wealth gap (that continues to widen…rich are getting richer, poor are getting poorer) is a multi-faceted issue. It’s not just one thing. Beware of the scapegoats, and I always challenge them by broadening my understanding of specific issues.
  7. I rarely post information specific to President Trump in my social media (and, that’s intentional). A response that becomes accusatory or makes assumptions is usually a good sign to disengage.
  8. Condescending behavior loses me right away. Particularly coming from a White, male, family member. The intention of sharing the post, was NOT to encourage readers to do as Trump does. And, this type of response is common as a way to threaten or put someone “in their place”. I always call this out. My tolerance for this is ZERO.
  9. More condescending comments. Refer to #8.
  10. “The race situation?” Phew! If one’s immediate response to the topic of race is similar to this one, WALK AWAY. That’s my opinion, anyways. Nothing good can come from that conversation. BUT, as I mentioned in #8, I am committed to calling that out, and staying true to myself. I see it as honoring my ancestors before me, and others who commit to the HARD work of amplifying the voices of the unheard.
  11. I 100% agree with the first part of this post. Hello, over-representation of Black and brown people in the criminal justice system + public lynching of countless Black people by the hands of police + a wall having more justice than Breonna Taylor. But, I digress. This post feels very personal to the person who responded. And, I’m not sure if it’s a way to defend Trump’s taxes?? Or defend themselves? For the record, absolutely admirable to take advantage of the deductions and credits that you QUALIFY FOR to keep employees paid. But, it really misses the entire point, so not worth engaging in.
I hope you learned something!
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Bryana Clover
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