This episode features a conversation with guest expert Karla Benson Rutten on how to talk about race and difference.
Karla works at Girl Scouts River Valleys as the Vice President of Community Engagement, developing strategies to help Girl Scouts be culturally responsive, relevant, and accessible to girls in communities of color. She also founded and runs her own coaching, consulting, and training firm focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Karla is a facilitator and advocate with tons of experience in higher education, diversity, social justice, and sexual violence prevention program development, which are important topics that we know a lot of girls are passionate about.
Hannah and Shanna had a great conversation with Karla about representation, trust, building relationships, and how to engage in dialog that will help build your community with people who don’t look like you or share your same culture. We’ll talk about when we first noticed race and difference, and how it can sometimes be hard to be curious and ask questions about people who are different from ourselves. A lot of what makes it hard comes from things many of us were taught about what is polite or appropriate to talk about, and concepts about race like “colorblindness” that can hinder us from forming relationships with people who are different from us.
Our takeaway— Respect, curiosity, and good intent are important and can be helpful tools for starting conversations. They can help us get past feelings of not wanting to say the wrong thing or fear of sounding ignorant. It’s all about acknowledging bias, being open, and expanding what we do to grow ourselves. We hope you’ll use some of the tools from this episode to start your own conversations.
Stay tuned at the end for Would You Rather and Girls Pick!
Looking to connect with our podcast team? Reach out with ideas, questions, or comments at girltalk.girlscoutsrv.org/contact.
Some links and resources to dive into
- A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America (Ronald Takaki)
- A People’s History of the United States (Howard Zinn)
- How to Talk To Kids About Race: Books and Resources That Can Help (list books for middle grades and young adult toward end of book list)
- Knowing Our History to Build a Brighter Future: Books to Help Kids Understand the Fight for Racial Equality
- 7 Young Adult Novels That Encourage Discussions on Racism (Age 14+)
Karla’s reading list
- June Peters, You Will Change the World One Day (Alika Turner)
- Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson)
- Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement (Carole Boston Weatherford)
- Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Andrea Davis Pinkney)
- One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia)
- P.S. Be Eleven (Rita Williams-Garcia)
- President of the Whole Fifth Grade (Sherri Winston)
- Zora and Me (Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon)
Ages 13 and Up:
- Come Here, Girl, Let Me Talk to You: A 30-Day Self-Discovery Journal for Girls About Life (Neda Renee)
- The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas)
- Piecing Me Together (Renée Watson)
- The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America (Tamara Winfrey Harris)
- Letters to a Young Artist (Anna Deveare Smith)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
- Sister Outsider (Audre Lorde)
- The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
- For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf (Ntozake Shange)
- Sister Citizen (Melissa Harris-Perry)
- The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
- Kindred (Octavia Butler)
- Redefining Realness (Janet Mock)
- Sister of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery (bell hooks)
- The Crunk Feminist Collective (Brittney Cooper, Susana Morris, & Robin Boylorn)