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“Those People”

Here we go again.  Another person says something they shouldn’t have said about one of “Those People” and apologized for it.  Welcome to the party Philadephia Eagles Wide Receiver Riley Cooper.

As I’ve listened and watched everyone from radio commentators, to television personalities, to “gym rats” at the Y discuss how appalled and disgusted they are, I just smile.  Their comments include:

It’s 2013, how can someone say that?

I can’t believe people can be so ignorant.

I would never do that.

When will this end??

Again, after these and similar comments all I can do is smile.  Why am I smiling? Because sometimes I think it’s pretty entertaining to watch people lie to themselves.   Now putting entertainment aside, I’m tired.  I’m tired of all the empty, re-hashed, lack of outcome-driven talking.   I’m tired of us fooling ourselves and fooling each other.  Why do we do this?

Because we’ve been taught & told since childhood “not to talk about” certain things – So we’ve become adults that don’t know how to talk about them.

So here’s the conversation starter.  I’m going to say what no one in the national media has said, to my recollection.  I’m about to say what most of us already know and believe, but we dare not say.  I’m going to say something that can spark a conversation that has the power to change the landscape of race relations, and any other relation that involves “differences” in people.  Ready for what I’m about to say.  Here it is – three points.




Being prejudiced isn’t the real problem.  The problem is how we manage our prejudices when they begin to rise up and come out.  If we’re honest we see some of “those people” and thoughts come out of nowhere, we don’t want to think them, but they come out.  And then when we reach the point that we stop thinking it, as soon as one of  “those people” pisses us off it comes back.  Why does it come back, because it never left.  And oh by the way, it may never leave.

But when our culture can mature and we all put on our Big Boy and Big Girl pants we can engage in some #CourageousConversations with all of those people in the room together.  We may just learn from each other.  We may learn how to manage our prejudices.  We may gain some knowledge and awareness that will dispute and dispel our prejudices.  We may just learn how to control our prejudice.

It’s interesting when we conduct our “Those People Exercise”© in seminars people always say, “I was taught not to say that.”  Very rarely, if ever, will someone say, “I was taught not to think it.”

So Riley Cooper was probably taught not to say it (in public), but he probably wasn’t taught not to think it and therefore he surely wasn’t able to know how to manage it when it started to rise up in him.

What about you? Are you able to manage your prejudices?  How are you able to deal with those horrible things that you thought you cleansed from your spirit when they attempt to rise up during the most inconvenient times?


**Those People Exercise© is a unique experience where a safe space is create for participants to open up and share everything they’ve ever heard, been taught, saw, or thought about different groups/populations.




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