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It’s OK to be uncomfortable talking about race

by Melinda Lantz | Feb 01, 2019

Posted Feb. 1 - David Pilgrim graced the Cordier Auditorium stage on Jan. 31 for our annual MLK Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony. Founder of the Jim Crow Museum and professor of sociology at Ferris State University, Pilgrim spoke about “Difficult Conversations About Race” and shared some lessons from his many years of engaging with others on issues of racism and other “-isms.” Among the lessons he shared were these:

  • Places where people feel comfortable sharing will allow them to talk – and some of what they say may be disappointing.
  • Conversations about race can be safe but uncomfortable, and that is OK.
  • Not changing someone’s mind is OK.
  • It’s OK to push back when you disagree, but don’t crush people.


Pilgrim also reminded us that we won’t finish this work– addressing racism – in our lifetimes, but we can make progress and we can get better at it. And he told those of us with privilege to own it and use it to empower others.

I’m grateful that David chose to drive to campus on a day that travel was hazardous because of subzero temperatures. His insights, experience, humor and lessons lifted those who heard him.