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The Importance of Civil Discourse

Categories: News, Stand Against Racism Challenge

Education is one of the most critical steps to nurturing positive mindsets and understanding other people’s experiences amid injustices. Without the opportunity to learn about past and present issues, we prohibit ourselves from advancing as a society. We limit ourselves from making progress during our lifetime.

This is where communication is vital. To be educated on sensitive topics, we need to learn and discuss with those who experience various forms of oppression without our prejudices getting in the way. We need to listen and learn, even if the topic may be difficult to understand or accept. We need to embrace civil discourse.

Civil discourse is the practice of engaging in conversation to seek and foster understanding. It involves all parties’ commitment to respect for truth, a practice of active listening and purposeful speaking, and an understanding that the cultivation of civil discourse is not a right but a responsibility.

Organizations like YWCA South Florida seek to foster civil discourse because it is essential to fulfilling our mission. We have to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations to tackle challenging issues that remain prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Our responsibility is to educate ourselves on today’s issues to confront biased mindsets and enact positive change.

But education on these topics continues to be challenged, with bills like the STOP WOKE that just passed in Florida and upcoming legislation banning certain areas of commentary that would not be taught in schools. Events such as the Civil Rights Movement, LGBTQ+ history, and even the Holocaust may be erased from history and school curriculums because they may be too “uncomfortable” for students to learn.

This is where our responsibility to practice civil discourse comes in. This responsibility is essential in all areas, but especially in learning environments. Schools and communities should be a place where people learn and understand the voices, histories, and experiences of those marginalized and continue to experience oppression. As a society, we need to teach our youth to be prepared to face these injustices and challenge them when they enter the real world. Without knowledge of how others experience prejudice, we will not understand how to support one another and enact changes for a more inclusive and positive future.

Today, there are people and organizations already dedicated to supporting the marginalized, with the same goal of positive change until injustice is eradicated and equity is accomplished. YWCA South Florida has recently started their third annual Stand Against Racism Challenge along with Football UNITES™, a program of the Miami Dolphins.

The Stand Against Racism Challenge invites citizens and businesses to come with an open heart and mind so that together we can spark conversations and inspire action by learning about ways to address racial and social injustices. This challenge is not about changing beliefs but rather learning ways to change systems that leave groups of people behind. Together, we can find common ground to be good citizens who care for one another and our community. 

To promote awareness of injustice against marginalized communities, it is our responsibility to take action by engaging in meaningful conversation. It is our responsibility to practice civil discourse.

We need to promote civil discourse on these issues even if the topics may be uncomfortable, but that’s where the 21-day habit takes effect. 

Participants will download the Stand Against Racism App for their phone/tablet or log into the challenge website and are then presented with 21 days of impactful challenges such as:

  • reading an article
  • listening to a podcast
  • reflecting on personal experience and more

New content is delivered right to your phone or email each day (except weekends) and will include ideas to move forward and take action. Our private Facebook group offers a space to reflect, share, and interact with others in a safe and respectful forum.

We believe the social justice landscape is constantly evolving, which is why we have chosen four brand-new topics to help guide us in the next step of our journey toward making South Florida the country’s most Inclusive & Equitable place to live. Each week, participants will receive content focused on:

  • Week 1: The Power of Film & TV
  • Week 2: The Importance of Living Wage
  • Week 3: Understanding Reproductive Justice
  • Week 4: What is Critical Race Theory?

Until equity is accomplished, YWCA South Florida continues to promote these challenges along with the impactful conversations needed to understand our prejudices and the injustice that affects others. The Stand Against Racism Challenge aims to promote a civil discourse urgently needed today. In the wake of conflict and oppression, it’s more important than ever to foster this growth mindset and communicate in effective and inclusive ways. By taking the time to learn from others, we can build a habit of taking a closer look at the issues others face.