In a world of loud voices, it’s hard to hear that one that isn’t speaking. People post anything on social media. People rant on the media. People blog their opinions. A lot of voices are pushing their way to the front of our hearing.
But sometimes, if we look closely, we’ll see that important voices are missing. Sometimes, those missing voices are obvious and sometimes, we have to look to find them.
Last night, I had the honor of being a part of a panel discussion about race, justice and reconciliation in my community. 7 panelists. 3 white men. 3 black men. Me.
Who was missing?
For those present it was obvious that no black women were a part of the panel discussion. How can you have a panel discussion about race relations in the community without black women? I can’t speak for black women. My experiences in the world are colored by privilege. It took time and listening to the stories of black women for me to understand that. I’m still learning it.
Also missing was the voice of the latino community. And people under 35. All who have experiences in the world, in my community, that are different than mine.
To have fruitful discussion, we must be listening to the voices that speak experiences different than our own. We must seek out the voices that have not been invited to the table, that have been excluded from the table, or that have been forgotten about.
Where does that start?
One participant reminded us that it starts at home around the dinner table. Often we have conversation around our dinner table that teach far more than a classroom teaches. So what voices are around your table? Dr. Ken Walden challenged participants to invite someone over for dinner who looks different than us. Will you do that? Will you seek out someone who has experiences different than your family and host that person and her/his family over for dinner?
Will you seek out the missing voices in your life?