Ep. 98: Sarah McCafferty — How to Overcome Fear with Love to Talk About Race

My guest this week is Sarah McCafferty. As you’ll hear, Sarah is passionate about issues of justice and equality. We focused on issues of race, in light of the developments in our society in recent weeks.

I don’t know about you but I was really reluctant to talk about race, because I was afraid I would say the wrong things, as I mentioned on a recent episode. Sarah has some really helpful things to say about moving through that fear, and why joining the conversation is so important—and no less so for White people.

If you can relate to the fear that keeps us silent, I hope you find this discussion helpful. As we hear others taking a risk and speaking up, it might get easier to do the same ourselves.

I was grateful to be talking in this episode with someone who’s comfortable around issues of race, racism, and the ongoing legacy of slavery and inequality in the US. I also appreciated how frankly Sarah spoke about love—the kind of love that moves us through fear, to something better on the other side. Topics we discussed included:

  • What often stops White people from entering the conversation on racism and inequality
  • The need to actively undo racism
  • The fear that often keeps us silent—and what we might gain from moving through it
  • The fallacy that only those who experience racism firsthand are harmed by racism
  • The pain of waking up to the effects of racism and inequality
  • How to educate oneself about racism without putting the burden on Black men and women to teach us (see this recent related article)
  • Also learning about Black history and experiences without the heaviness of racism
  • The vastly different experiences in schools for many predominantly Black communities (see this article)
  • The fear of losing something that contributes to entrenched inequality
  • The moral cost of allowing inequality and injustice to endure
  • What loving all children would look like
  • The many paths up the mountain toward greater equality and freedom
  • All that’s been stolen from Black Americans, legally and systematically
  • School reform as a type of reparations
  • The obscene wealth inequality in the US (see this Forbes article)
  • How to leverage current awakening to move toward actual structural change
  • The non-political nature of justice and equality
  • How we often mislabel our fear as something else, and how to move through it
  • How the principles of CBT can help with conversations about race
  • The book club on race that my guest has been leading for four years
  • The politicization of human rights issues, and how to move toward consensus
  • How our political leaders use race to divide us
  • Love and fear as our primary motivators
  • The value in following the social media accounts of Black individuals

Sarah recommended some books for those who want to educate themselves. They include (affiliate links):

Sarah referenced the funding differences for the Philadelphia City School District, in which many schools are predominantly Black, and Lower Merion School District, a nearby suburban district that is mostly White. Here are the numbers:

My guest recommended going to the source to learn about:

She also suggested following more Black men and women on social media. Here are some Instagram accounts she recommends:

  • Ijeoma Oluo – author of So You Want to Talk About Race 
  • The Conscious Kid – content on how to talk to your kids about race for parents and teachers 

Sarah McCafferty is an educator, a parent of three, and a racial justice advocate. She graduated from McGill University in Montréal with a degree in secondary education.  She has taught high school English as well as preschool, and a lot in between.

Sarah has facilitated a book club for racial justice for several years, and she’s a community organizer for the Racial Justice Action Group of the Havertown-Area Community Action Network.

She calls herself “just a regular person who cares a lot about racial justice.” She’s an avid reader and, in her words, a sometimes runner.

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