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Four Ways Americans Can Unite In Spite Of Recent Violence


Violence across the country this summer — in Orlando, Dallas and Baton Rouge – along with videos of shootings of civilians by police has many Americans on edge. Today on Think, Krys Boyd spoke with Washington University associate law professor John Inazu about ways to bridge the current divides within American society. John Inazu is the author of, “Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference.”

The KERA Interview

Key takeaways from John Inazu's interview: 

Avoid placing blame: 

“In Orlando, some people were blaming American Muslims and some people were blaming conservative Christians. And anytime someone dies or is subject to violence we see an immediate broadening of the guilt and the culpability from some circles. So part of what we have to do I think is push back hard on that and to recognize that in many instances individuals do not stand for groups.”

One thing that unites us: 

“One of the most important things we need to do is keep reminding [ourselves] that we have a kind of what I call a modest unity. And part of that unity says at the end of the day we don’t kill each other that we work hard to understand each other better. We’re obviously not doing a great job of that now, but we’ve got to keep saying that to each other and we’ve got to keep aspiring toward it.”  

Listen to someone else's story: 

“There’s a sense in which we need to believe each other’s stories a little more. There’s so many different narratives out there right not about what truth is or what fact is and we tend to buy into some of those from our own channels and sources without even really talking to someone outside of them. So to learn from a person of another race, 'What is the experience of race in this country? What happened to not just you, but your grandparents and your great grandparents and how does that shape you today?' Those are questions that can get us to some of the complications of the current moment.”

Learn from people you disagree with: 

“We don’t give enough people the benefit of the doubt so if we’re going to err in one direction it probably does mean being more generous with people. And recognizing too that even the people we disagree with the most  ...  will have something useful to say and something to teach us.”