Talking about racism isn’t divisive. The way we talk about it often is.

Last week, I dove into an online conversation with someone in my network about the politics of talking about institutional racism. 

The crux of his argument, (I believe) was that when people talk about white privilege, or criticize America for its institutionalized racism, for instance, we are being divisive, and even racist (against white people) or classist. 

I disagree. But that’s not the point of this post. 

Zainab Chaudary fights bigotry through the power of story

For many activists, the fight for change is personal. 

And that deeply felt connection to a sense of what matters drives organizers like Zainab Chaudary.  

I recently had a conversation with her about her work at ReThink Media to shift the narrative of Islamophobia in the US. She talked about what it's like to work on such a personal issue in a time of heightened divisiveness, shared some great insights about how attitudes shift, and where she draws strength to fight back against fear and hate.

Below is an edited transcript of that conversation.

OpEd: Donald Trump's candidacy should prompt South Asians to build bridges.

My opinion editorial appeared today in the San Jose Mercury news. (Online edition on Friday 8/5/16, in print on Monday 8/8/15.) I'd love to hear your thoughts, and please keep the conversation going by sharing it, commenting on the MercuryNews site, and writing a letter to the editor.

Islamophobia endangers South Asians of all religions
Donald Trump's candidacy should prompt South Asians to build bridges.
In a six-minute speech last month, a Pakistani-American delivered what many hail as the fulcrum of the presidential election. Khizr Khan's speech is perhaps the most remarkable sign of the South Asian community's steady shift toward greater visibility and political prominence in the last decade.
I grew up in the 1980s in Virginia, amid a small community of Indian Hindus. We got excited anytime we saw another South Asian at the mall, much less on the national stage.
So with the spotlight on us, how are non-Muslim South Asians responding to the heightened climate of Islamophobia? There are real stakes in this for all of us.

Read the rest here. 

The Persuasion Paradox (How winning sometimes takes letting go of winning)

To make an impact, we've got to let go of winning.

That might sound odd, especially for anyone going to protests, or working on an advocacy or electoral campaign. It might sound near impossible if you're in the heat of a contentious campaign.  

And to be clear, I’m not advocating that we as progressives stop being serious about change. We've got to keep asking ourselves the tough questions: How will our efforts make a difference? Are we making progress? How can we do better? I want change too, and these questions are essential.

And so is your capacity to lead and inspire. 

That's why I’m talking about how to more powerfully connect and persuade those around you -- to take a resonant stand -- through a practice of letting go. 

How to talk to your (non-black) family about Black Lives Matter

After the last 48 hours, one thing is clear. We can’t leave this up to black people. We’ve got to do our part.

And I'm seeing a lot of white and brown folks in my social feeds who want to do more to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

One thing we all can do is talk about it. And not just to people who already agree with us. But with everyone who really matters to us -- our parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, colleagues, college buddies, and neighbors. This is our circle of influence -- where we as individuals are better positioned to make an impact than anyone else. After all, if you can't get your mom thinking about BLM, then who can?

What Orlando Can Teach Us about Unconditional Love and Respect

What Orlando Can Teach Us about Unconditional Love and Respect

When I first read about the mass murder in Orlando, I couldn’t really take in the full weight of the tragedy. My heart skipped past the unbearable sadness, and went right to anger — a more comfortable place to dwell.

I felt fury at the idiot fundamentalism that led to the murder of 49 people because of who they love, and that many in the LGBT community have been brutally reminded that in spite of progress, they still have reason to fear for their safety. I thought about the fact that Congress has still, after so many deaths, yet to ban semi-automatic weapons. And I got preemptively pissed at anyone who would try to paint all Muslims as guilty by association for this horrible act.