Dr. Stevenson’s presentation focused on the importance of racial literacy among families and communities as a way for people of color to better understand, cope and heal from racial discrimination. He outlines strategies to deal with racial issues and notes that racial literacy is important in order to address cultural differences as a way to understand the complexities of race. This type of cultural competency is key in engaging boys and young men of color, enabling them to better understand, internalize, and channel the effects that culture and race have on their lives.
During Dr. Stevenson’s presentation, he addresses the need to understand cultural differences, as they are the key to achieving a mutual awareness of how race plays into the psyche and development of communities throughout America.
“Key to this literacy is a forgotten truth…[our] cultural differences represent the power to heal centuries of racial discrimination, dehumanization, and illness.”
Through personal stories about conversations with his parents and his own son, Dr. Stevenson details the uniqueness of various “cultural styles” in addressing issues of race and highlights the diversity of reactions and coping mechanisms.
Research reveals that historical and contemporary racial oppression and discrimination have a negative effect on the mental and emotional health outcomes of those impacted. Many, including boys and young men of color, struggle to understand and properly address these effects. Dr. Stevenson points to the challenges of dealing with everyday moments where individuals may be confronted with issues of race. These include confrontations with microaggressions, blatant discrimination, and social situations where individuals are made to be hyper-aware of their culture or race.
In the presentation, Dr. Stevenson outlines the “Read, Recast, and Resolve” approach to dealing with these racial moments — he emphasizes the importance of actively noticing racial moments as they occur, achieving a mindful understanding and analysis of these situations, and being able to make healthy decisions to respond appropriately. He further outlines ways one can achieve the mindfulness needed to approach racial moments, large and small.
You can watch Dr. Stevenson’s full segment below and on TED.com.