If you have a platform, use it!
Controversial and upsetting events are happening around us all the time. What are you doing as a public speaker to address these events and open the conversation? Deciding not to talk about something because you don’t know how or don’t want to “go there” isn’t helping your audience think differently, understand other viewpoints, or change their perceptions.
In today’s episode, I derailed from the original plan so I could ask my guest, Hari Stephen Kumar, a teacher, scholar, story-crafter, and vision-caster who speaks and teaches about issues of whiteness, gender, religion, politics, and mass media about the events that took place in Charlottesville last Saturday. As I’m still searching for the right way to ask questions about it, I turned today’s episode into a chance to practice “going there” from a place of sensitivity, openness, and compassion toward other people’s experiences.
Hari and I discuss how public speakers can bring up tough subjects, what it’s been like for him living as a non-white man in a largely white area, how he addresses the question of where he’s from, his thoughts on Charlottesville, and the larger subject of race, and much more. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this episode, but I knew having a conversation about it was a good place to start.
I hope this inspires you to begin talking about more difficult, complex topics so you can be part of breaking down barriers and challenging the viewpoints that keep us divided. The book Hari recommends at the end of the episode is Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.
Angela Lussier is the founder of the Speaker Sisterhood and also an award-winning speaker, three-time author, and two-time TEDx presenter. She is the host of Claim the Stage, a public speaking podcast for courageous women. Her motto: Stop waiting. Start creating.