In the current sociopolitical climate, people are having uncomfortable conversations about diversity. Divergent views about justice cause discomfort among many who fear being “canceled” or ostracized for saying the wrong thing. Kenji Yoshino and David Glasgow, founders of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the NYU School of Law, offer practical advice on how to overcome the fear about saying the wrong thing in conversations focused on social identities, privilege, and equity. The strategies offered in Say the Right Thing: How to Talk About Identity, Diversity, and Justice can apply in academic settings, workplaces, and other institutions where unequal access to power abounds.
Along with anecdotes, the authors cite scientific research centered on communications and psychology. Foundational principles provide a portable toolkit that stresses the importance of approaching conversations with an open mind and managing emotional discomfort of discussing tenuous issues. They break down the elements of respectful, candid dialogue and sincere, authentic apologies.
I read this book with great enthusiasm as a diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner. I appreciate the authors’ actionable strategies that have been disseminated and tested in various organizations. The book addresses familiar approaches such as recognizing biases, addressing impacts of privilege, being open to learning and applying tactics to become a better ally. Concrete definitions explain concepts such as tone policing and channel switching, Fellow diversity practitioners and facilitators would benefit from reading how the authors present well-reasoned arguments on contentious topics.