Talking about racism

How do you have a conversation with someone who just made a racist comment? There are different ways to deal with this situation. How do you respond?

Do you tell them they are racist for saying that? Then they feel insulted and they say something back at you that is not very flattering. And by now a friendly conversation is an argument. Other than causing hurt feelings, what did your comment to your friend accomplish?

Maybe instead of calling out the racist remark, you don’t say anything for fear of causing an argument and hurt feelings. Confrontation or avoidance are two common strategies most of us have used. However, we usually don’t get the results that we want.

But there are conversational techniques that allow having difficult conversations without creating more problems. These evidence-based techniques will be demonstrated at the White Ally Toolkit Workshop, presented by Stand Up for Racial Justice-Southwest Florida (SURJ-SWFL) and the Collier County NAACP.

The goal of the workshop is to “help people be in a better position on how to talk with people who don’t believe that racism is an issue”, says workshop presenter David Campt. “Most people don’t know how to engage in constructive conversation and they use conversation strategies that aren’t effective.”

White Ally Toolkit Workshop is designed to train white people to have conversations with other white Americans who believe racism is not a problem. Building trust and gaining influence are some of the techniques that will be taught. Attendees will also get a chance to practice their skills in role-playing. While the focus of this workshop is racism, these conversation techniques can be used for other controversial subjects such as sexuality and gender, and climate change.

According to its website, “SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice.” SURJ-SWFL meets in Ft. Myers and in Naples. “David Campt presented his White Ally Toolkit Workshop last summer”, said Ellen Hemrick, the SURJ-SWFL meeting leader in Naples. The workshops were popular, even drawing people from Punta Gorda.

To meet the demand for this workshop, Ellen’s group decided to have David present White Ally Toolkit workshops during snowbird season and also have a workshop in Punta Gorda. Based in North Carolina, David is a nationally recognized speaker about inclusion, engagement and conflict resolution. David’s Southwest Florida tour will have stops in Punta Gorda, Ft. Myers, and Naples.

The White Ally Toolkit Workshop empowers people to talk about racism, says Ellen. This is a difficult topic to talk about. According to the White Ally Toolkit website, 55% of whites believe that racism against whites is a bad as racism against people of color.

The White Ally Toolkit Workshop will be held on March 28, 3:30 – 6:30pm at FGCU Renaissance Academy, 117 Herald Court, Punta Gorda. To enroll, visit

More information about:

White Ally Toolkit

Dr. David Campt,

Stand Up For Racial Justice,