How to Talk About Race and Other Difficult Topics This Thanksgiving

Lead Photo: Photo by Robert Benson/ Royalty-free
Photo by Robert Benson/ Royalty-free
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Thanksgiving is around the corner, and for many of us this means getting together with family members who don’t share our political views. It’s a prospect that can be stressful enough under normal circumstances, but it can feel especially charged in today’s polarized political environment. We’ll be gathering just weeks after the divisive midterm elections and at the tail end of a year that has laid bare a huge rift in our nation and has left many with intense feelings of anger, fear, and sadness.

If you thought struggling through conversations with that tío who gets turnt off the wine and starts testing you with “mejorando la raza” comments was rough, subjects like the FL and GA midterms, the #MeToo movement and the immigrant caravan might tempt you to skip politics talk altogether this year. But now more than ever we need to seize opportunities to have the hard conversations with those who matter most in our lives.

But what is the best way to communicate persuasively with people who may have vastly different opinions than your own? How can you bridge the divide and actually get people to hear you out? Several experts – from hostage negotiators to counselors to cognitive and social science researchers – have weighed in. Below, we’ve compiled some helpful guides filled with effective tactics you can use to tackle fraught topics like race, sexuality, and gender equality:

Fighting bigotry starts in our own communities, at our own dining room tables, with our own family members. In fact, studies show that family can have a huge influence on a person’s political views. So this Thanksgiving, don’t shy away from the uncomfortable conversations – they may actually help you build more meaningful relationships with loved ones you disagree with.

This article was originally published on November 21, 2016 and updated on November 21, 2018.