Talking About How to Talk About Race with Victoria Alexander

Interview by
Diane Danvers Simmons
Natalie Simmons
Published on
August 5, 2020

In this episode...

The discussion about antiracism with PhD Student and Diversity & Equity Facilitator, Victoria Alexander, continues as the group covers where to start when broaching conversations around race and racism with friends and family.


Victoria Alexander

Victoria is a PhD student at the University of Maryland College of Education, studying Higher Education. Her research interests include anti-racist pedagogy, critical consciousness building, and experiences of Black students in predominately white institutions.


1:45 Natalie kicks off the second in a series of two episodes, with PhD student & Diversity & Equity Facilitator, Victoria Alexander, by reintroducing listeners to the guest’s background and sharing her anti-racist resource guide offering tips to start conversations about race.Natalie recommends listening to the first episode before diving into this episode if listeners have not done so already. 

3:15 Diane & Natalie discuss the topic of the episode - getting comfortable having uncomfortable, but essential conversations about race with family, friends and others.

5:15 Diane kicks off the episode; Natalie hops in to ask Victoria about what led to creating her conversation guide and her recommendations in starting these tough conversations with people we love.

7:45 Victoria shares her personal awakening with the need to find ways to broach conversations on race with those around her, pinpointing a story from college in 2014 in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and the reaction from her white friends.
10:30 Victoria shares how her experiences in undergrad ignited her focus of study on “how homogenous populations form opinions about racial groups other than their own using social media and news media,” racial identity development and cultural competency building defined as being able to have these types of conversations in “constructive and educated ways.”

12:00 Victoria states her reason for working in higher education stating, “If world-class institutions are going to tout that they provide this amazing education, then they have a duty to educate people to be better people and to not cause oppression in unnoticed ways once they leave that institution and while they’re there.”

12:45 Diane referencing the conversation guide and asks Victoria specifically about “share your journey.”

13:30 Victoria talks about microaggressions and ways to combat moments in which she used to be unsure of how to respond. 

15:00 Natalie states a personal insecurity in race conversations sharing, “I find that when I get in uncomfortable situations, my initial reaction is to either go full force ahead and be angry about it, or completely ignore the situation and then I’m the ‘not racist’ person standing by the sidewalk not doing anything, because I don’t know how to approach it.” 

16:30 Victoria shares her evolution in creating and using her conversation starters, owning her adolescence in “wanting to be cool”, growing to realization that “these things don’t hurt my feelings because I’m sensitive, they hurt my feelings because they’re racist and that’s bad” and ultimately arriving at the fact that “maybe I can handle it but if this person goes the rest of their life thinking that what they just said is okay, they might really, really hurt the feelings of someone else.” She describes how she started with the “playing dumb” tactic making people think harder about the comment they just made and later graduated to challenging a stereotype and citing statistics and beyond.

18:30 Victoria unpacks an important truth in bridging conversations when she says, “When you’re facing someone who does not mean to be hurtful or racist, if you come at them in a way that’s going to make them feel attacked, or make them go into defense mode, then your ability to have a constructive conversation really goes out the window because that person is not going to listen to you anymore.”

19:45 Diane opens up about how she came to empathize with the Black mother’s experience putting herself in the shoes of mothers who fear their children being in harm's way when they leave the house by the hands of the police. 

21:30 Victoria talks about her upbringing being bi-racial and her white mother’s experience raising herself and her brother as “she learned that mothers will see the world through the way that it affects their kids, and saw that she needed to prepare [them] for a world that is racist and unfair, so that [they] can try to survive in it.”

24:30 The group briefly discusses the relationship with police in White vs. Black & Latinx communities. 

27:00 Victoria shares her intention that “People should get comfortable with getting things wrong. I would hate for people to not engage in these conversations because they are worried about getting cancelled or penned as a racist.”

27:15 Victoria wraps up the conversation by cautioning listeners about the “rubber band effect” in social movements and asks that “people take what they’re learning and thinking about right now and keep mobilizing and keep pushing forward, and hopefully whatever form the backlash takes can be recognized as such and can be combated.” 

Listen to the first episode with Victoria, Being Antiracist vs "Not Racist" with Victoria Alexander


Connect with, follow and contribute to Victoria Alexander’s Work:

Follow Victoria on Instagram:@victoriaalxndr

Follow Victoria on Twitter @victoriaalxandr

Victoria’s CV

Victoria Alexander’s Antiracist Resource Guide

Victoria’s conversation guide

Should you wish to compensate Victoria for her work, please find her on Venmo at victoriaalxndr, and on CashApp at $victoriaalxndr.
Connect with and follow Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered:

Find Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered on Facebook

Follow Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered on Instagram @motherdaughterunfiltered

Follow Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered on LinkedIn

Sign up to hear more from us.

Stay updated on our latest podcast episodes, show notes, upcoming events and more!

Thank you! Be on a lookout for an email from us!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.