Charlottesville and White People Sam talks to white people — and only white people — about Charlottesville. This episode: UVA history professor Grace Hale, NPR's Sarah McCammon, and developmental psychologist Amy Roberson Hayes, plus some calls to our listeners. Email the show at samsanders@npr.org and follow Sam on Twitter @samsanders.
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Charlottesville and White People

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Charlottesville and White People

Charlottesville and White People

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SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all, Sam Sanders here. It's been a minute. So we were going to give you an episode today taking you inside the offices of The Onion, that amazing satirical news publication. I actually spent a day with their editorial team in Chicago recently. But, you know, news happened over the weekend and priorities shifted. And it just didn't feel like a good time to talk about laughing at current events.

So we chose to hold The Onion episode for another day. And instead, Brent and I spent Monday recording conversations about Charlottesville and what happened there this weekend. By now, you've heard a lot of stories of people who were there on the streets when the violence broke out. And you may have read a lot of great writing from black voices like Jamelle Bouie, who's going to be on NPR's Code Switch podcast Wednesday with our friend Gene Demby and his crew. Check that out for sure.

You know, but here's the thing - it often feels like there is this pressure on black America or Jewish people or LGBTQ people or other marginalized groups to really lead these conversations after weekends like this one. So today I want to flip the script. I want to talk about white people and to white people because so many of those young white men in Charlottesville over the weekend, they came there from white communities and they went back home to white communities. And they have white families and white friends and white loved ones.

So I want to talk today about where white people go from here. So this episode, all the voices you hear besides mine, they are white. Now, I'm not saying that we have any big answers here in this episode. But sometimes just talking these things out, out loud, in conversation, that's helpful. We'll talk to NPR's Sarah McCammon, who you may recall from the NPR Politics podcast last year. She was in Charlottesville the day after the violence there, and she also covered the Trump campaign for many, many months last year.

We'll also take a few listener calls because, again, it's just good to talk this stuff out sometimes. And if you'll indulge me, I will share my thoughts at the end of this episode about how white people can start to have better conversations about all of this stuff with the people in their lives. But first up, I had some questions I wanted to put to a professor at the University of Virginia. That's the site of that torch march on Friday night.

Her name's Grace Hale. She's white. She told me that she's used to talking about these issues from an academic perspective. She actually wrote a book a few years ago called "Making Whiteness." But the fact that this all went down for Grace Hale in her hometown, it made it really emotional for her, partly because she was out of town for the weekend. And I asked her how she's dealing with that.

GRACE HALE: You know, frantically trying to get news from home on the phone and texting everyone and watching everything, but also just being really frightened for many of the wonderful young people and people of color that I know in town, that I know, you know, have been at these events and just really fearing for their safety.

SANDERS: What kind of things are people in town saying when you text them?

HALE: They're saying it's grim. They're saying it's horrible. They're saying, why are the police not protecting people? Why are these people with massive, you know, guns allowed to march through the center of our town? I have two daughters that are in high school and they're - they have - people from their high school were hit by the car. They're OK. They're going to recover. But people that they know were actually injured in that attack. So it's been really, really, really difficult and really complex. One of my children is very involved in community organizing and works in an interracial coalition that has been working on a lot of these issues. And it's really been hard for her.

SANDERS: Do you want her to keep doing that work? Are you scared for her safety now?

HALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. She can't - you know, there's no way to stop her. If I wanted to stop her, I couldn't. So (laughter) I want her to keep working on those issues. But, you know, I am a mother, so of course I am afraid for her. So...

SANDERS: So that's where she's coming from. Grace Hale is a historian of whiteness and racism. And I asked her how what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend is different from KKK rallies of a hundred years ago, aside from the fact that these guys didn't wear white hoods.

HALE: Well, they have much better weapons today. You know, they're much more sophisticated firearms. But I shouldn't - I'm not trying to make light of that. That's really terrifying. They have much better weapons. I actually would say that in a lot of ways, it isn't different, though.

What is interesting that is different is the breakdown of a post-civil rights moment consensus in America that this kind of violent white supremacist - whether it's white supremacy, whether it's the neo-Nazis, whether it's the most extreme neo-confederates and Klan people, there was, in the 20th century, especially the second half of it, a sense that that was just beyond the pale of civilized, you know, tolerated behavior. But as far as, you know, people are marching without hoods, you know, people knew in the past who the people were that were doing things. People knew - in a town like Charlottesville, people knew who the people were in the Klan even though the membership rolls were not publicized.

SANDERS: You know, one of the things that's been interesting is the response of white people to what's happened over the weekend. There are a lot of people saying, well, this is not us. This is not the America I know. That's not me. I'm not that. And on the one hand, it seems noble to say, I'm nothing like those bad people. But on the other hand, it can kind of feel like an easy way out of doing any of the work needed to make stuff better. How does this distancing from other white people to what happened in Charlottesville play into that? And is it a thing that, like, you can actually do if you're white?

HALE: No. Unfortunately, perhaps for those who are looking for some sort of innocence, no, it isn't something that you can do. I mean, I - not all white people are the same. And there are extremes of white supremacy and violence. And I would like to note them. You know, it is not every white person who's going to drive their car into a group of protesters.

That said, for white people, those privileges and those ways in which they are assumed to be at the center of American culture, assumed to be the people who matter, assumed to be the people who can happily occupy a park with a Confederate statue in the middle of it - white people don't get to say, well, that's not me. I'm not that person. I voted for Obama. You know, you hear that all the time.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HALE: You know, it doesn't absolve you or take you out of that. I don't get to choose whether other people perceive me as white. Other people make assumptions about your identity, and you are treated in certain ways. And you don't get to choose those. And white people can't opt out of them by suggesting, that's not me, I didn't do that.

SANDERS: Last question because I know you have to get on the road - what can you change if you're a good-hearted white or black or whatever person throughout the country? Is it thinking about where you shop, where you send your kids to school, where you live, who you talk to? I mean, like, what are some things in our everyday life that we should be more critical of to think about how we play a part in constructing some of these toxic views of race?

HALE: Well, I mean, there's so many ways. But, you know, I think you're - you've mentioned some of them. One of the most important things people can do in Charlottesville is send their kids to public school and advocate for all the students that are there. When your kids are in school, don't just advocate for your own kids, but advocate for all the kids in the school. We have good public schools in Charlottesville, but we have problems within them, as many schools do - divisions between groups of students.

You know, think about your privilege and think about - you know, you don't have to be right all the time. You don't have to be innocent all the time. I think that's one of the biggest problems many white people in America have, this desire not to be blamed, this kind of visceral emotional desire to be innocent. One of the privileges of whiteness is that. It's the sense that everybody's going to care about my psychological well-being. You know, maybe it's not about you. Maybe the best thing...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HALE: ...You can do as a white person is to say, you know, this isn't about me. I'm confused. I'm hurt. I don't understand. But all of those things are not relevant to solving this problem. (Laughter) You know, it's not about me. I need to figure out who is working on the issue and who I can help and put my own feelings aside.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Grace Hale is a history professor at UVA. She has a book called "Making Whiteness" about a lot of this stuff. All right, time for a break. When we come back, Sarah McCammon, who covered Donald Trump for NPR back in 2016, and a few more listener calls, including a developmental psychologist who you don't want to miss. BRB (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: We are back talking about Charlottesville and race and white people. Here in the booth with me now my good friend, Sarah McCammon. How are you?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: I'm good. It's so...

SANDERS: It's good to see you.

MCCAMMON: ...Good to see you.

SANDERS: So during the entire campaign, when you were in the office, you were my cubicle mate.

MCCAMMON: That's right.

SANDERS: My work spouse.

MCCAMMON: Work wife.

SANDERS: Yeah. But you were busy covering Donald Trump's campaign, so you were on the road all the time.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, but I was around enough to watch you walk around in your socks and drink water from your old pickle jar.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Those were the days.

MCCAMMON: They were.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. So you spent months and months traveling with the Trump campaign in 2016 talking to Trump supporters. You talked about that a lot in the Politics podcast last year. Now you're off politics doing all kinds of reporting.

MCCAMMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: So because you're an NPR reporter based in Virginia, they sent you this weekend to UVA, to Charlottesville, and you covered the aftermath of this weekend's events.

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: What'd you see out there? How did it feel?

MCCAMMON: Yeah, I mean, I...

SANDERS: And when'd you get there?

MCCAMMON: So I got out there Saturday night. And I was thinking about, well, what - where to go, what to do. And the obvious thing seemed to be - this happened on a Saturday. Sunday morning, you know, a lot of people are going to be in church.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: What are pastors going to say? And I was really curious about what pastors - both white pastors and black pastors - were going to say.

SANDERS: And you went to two services, right?

MCCAMMON: I did. I went to a church called Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church first. And actually, Governor Terry McAuliffe was there with the mayor and some other elected officials. And then I went over to a predominantly white church also. This was a Southern Baptist church just a short way across town.

SANDERS: How did what people said from the pulpit and in those churches differ based on what happened in the black church and the white church?

MCCAMMON: The first thing I noticed was - you know, I've been to a lot of black churches, often for stories...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Often for political stories.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And, you know, normally, I'm welcomed, warmly received. It's never been a problem. But on Sunday morning, it was clear that everybody was having a really hard time. It was immediately obvious. And I think - you know, there were a lot of reporters in the back of the room to see the governor. The first few people I talked to were just, you know, like, I don't want to talk...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Or why is the governor here? Why are all these people here?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: One lady said to me, you know, I just needed - I was just - wanted to come to church and just, like, have church and...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...You know, just have it be quiet. So I felt - kind of - I felt kind of bad, you know? And there was just a lot of sadness. I mean, several ladies did talk to me. And one woman, whose name was Donna Churchman (ph) - my editor's like, is that her real name? I'm like, yeah, it's...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: ...Donna Churchman, an usher at the church...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Who was wearing her white usher gloves.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And, you know, she's just like, I am just so sad. She's like, I just - I'm so sad that we have to keep going through this all because somebody doesn't like the color of somebody's skin.

SANDERS: Yeah. yeah.

MCCAMMON: And I talked to another woman who's, you know, lived in Charlottesville for decades. And, you know, Charlottesville thinks of itself as a progressive town, a college town. And in many ways, that's true. But, you know, there's this black woman. She says racism is a reality here.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: I'm used to that.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: But she's like, I'm not used to this, you know, to it turning violent.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: So everybody was just kind of stunned and really sad.

SANDERS: Yeah. How'd that compare to the white church?

MCCAMMON: You know, in the white church, the mood was different. I mean, it was acknowledged from the pulpit, as it was in the black church. In talking to members of the church afterwards, it was a little bit different.

SANDERS: How so?

MCCAMMON: You know, nobody - there was no question that this was bad, right?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: Racism's bad. KKK - bad. Like...

SANDERS: Yes.

MCCAMMON: ...Not rocket science here...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...You know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And I found this, too, in covering the campaign. And we've talked about this before. You know, most white people do not want to be racist, at least consciously. They don't think of themselves as racist. And they are quick to disavow racism. But the way they talk about race is different. The African-American folks I talked to, a couple of them said, you know, this is coming from the top. This is - the president is setting a bad tone.

Whereas talking to the white folks, it was more, you know, there's violence on all sides. I heard a couple of people say, yeah, the white supremacists, we absolutely disagree with them, but maybe people shouldn't be out counterprotesting either, maybe that doesn't help. And it just seems to me that, you know, how much skin you have in the game...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Really affects the way, in many cases, you might see how this all plays out.

SANDERS: Yeah. That's interesting. You know, so what I want to do with this episode is really think about and talk about how white people react to an event like Charlottesville. As soon as I saw the news this weekend about it, I began to tweet and I got on Facebook and I was reading up. And I felt like I had to be engaged in this conversation online. And I think a lot of times, after racial incidents like these, there seems to be an onus or a pressure on, quote, unquote, "black America" to speak first...

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: ...To carry the conversation. And what I really want to unpack with this talk is how white people should be involved in these difficult conversations about race and what that looks like and what that sounds like. And what does it mean to work towards a society where we all feel this pressure to work on these issues? Do you think people in Charlottesville are grappling with those kind of questions?

MCCAMMON: Oh...

SANDERS: Who carries this weight?

MCCAMMON: ...Totally. And I mean, it's worth noting, too, that, you know, Charlottesville is a pretty white community. A lot of the counterprotesters...

SANDERS: Were white.

MCCAMMON: ...Were white...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Right? And, in fact, you know...

SANDERS: The woman that died was white.

MCCAMMON: The woman who died was white. The police who died were white. So there's already a lot of white organization around this in Charlottesville at least. That said, as you say, I mean, this is - in terms of the broader culture these conversations happen all the time. And they're always difficult. I heard a lot of people just kind of saying things like, first of all, stunned and shocked that this could happen, and now just kind of like, well, how do we move forward?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: In fact, the white pastor said he and other, I think, pretty conservative white pastors had been talking about, what do we say to our congregation?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: How do we talk about this?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: I think a sense of responsibility and a sense that - you know, I mean, these are influential people who shape the way their flocks think and talk.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And, you know, just an awareness that this is a really - this could be a really pivotal moment, and it's important to say the right thing.

SANDERS: Yeah. yeah.

MCCAMMON: And he said they're going to keep talking. And I think that without a doubt in Charlottesville there are going to be a lot more of these kinds of conversations and beyond Charlottesville.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, I think one of the interesting things that I've found the further I've dug into how people are responding to this is there's been some both-sideism (ph) happening not just from Donald Trump, who in his first statement after the attack used the words on many sides.

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: But there's been people in comments online and folks that I've called up today who say they've talked with people - white people - who say, well, you know, Black Lives Matter, they can be pretty violent, too. Folks with Antifa can be pretty violent. And what if some of the folks out there marching with those nationalists just wanted to stick up for statues that honor their history? You know, what about this? What about that? Both sides this and that - that is not something new, right?

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: I mean, how...

MCCAMMON: And I heard some of that, too.

SANDERS: Yeah. And so how does any of that feel different from some of the conversations you might have heard during the campaign trail when the Black Lives Matter movement was in the news a lot and a lot of folks were doing some both-sideisms (ph) then?

MCCAMMON: I think there is more disagreement on the right about groups like Black Lives Matter than perhaps people on the left fully recognize.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: You know, I think there are some on the right - a substantial number of people - that see Black Lives Matter as, you know, a militant, quasi-violent organization. Of course, you know, at these - at public events, at rallies, at protests, you know, it is true that sometimes violence goes back and forth. But of course, you know, the founders of Black Lives Matter, that's certainly not what they stand for. But that is a perception that is out there.

Whereas I think on the left, you have a much more sort of unified, like, Black Lives Matter is there to advocate for racial and social justice and to, you know, right - try to right the wrongs of history and the way black people have been treated in America. On the right, I think you see a lot more skepticism, even from people that would disavow racism and white supremacy...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...But a skepticism about BLM and a sense that sometimes those groups are just there to stir up trouble.

SANDERS: Got you.

MCCAMMON: Which goes, again, to what I said about, you know, how much skin you have in the game and where you stand...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Shapes how you see this kind of activism.

SANDERS: What do you think might be shaping some white conservatives or just white people's view of Black Lives Matter? How are they learning about groups like that? How are they learning about how to conceptualize some of these protests on both sides of the spectrum?

MCCAMMON: I mean, I can't say 100 percent for sure.

SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

MCCAMMON: But, you know, I've been listening to some talk radio this weekend, too, just kind of trying to take the pulse of...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...You know, what's talk radio saying? What's conservative radio saying? And between that and a few of the folks I've talked to - you know, and some of the things I did hear during the campaign...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Just about, you know, this sense, again, that sometimes people come out to protest and they're trying to stir up trouble - you know, people on the left. There's a pervasive idea that I hear on the right that protesters are being paid. I hear this over and over again, and it's - you know, whether it's by George Soros or somebody like that. You know, and I've asked a lot of protesters just because I hear people on the right say this when I talk to Black Lives Matter or other, you know, sort of anti-Trump protesters, just for the record, are you getting paid - you know, Indivisible people, folks like that? And they always say absolutely not....

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...You know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: So no. I mean, can I prove that they're not getting paid? Of course not. But I mean, I haven't encountered any evidence that they are.

SANDERS: Nor have I.

MCCAMMON: But that is a pervasive idea on the right. It's something that I think the likes of, like, Rush Limbaugh, you know, will sometimes say. And I think even President Trump suggested...

SANDERS: He suggested it before.

MCCAMMON: ...It during the campaign.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: So, you know, those kinds of ideas, my sense is that they kind of get out there, they get spread around on social media and on conservative media. And people pick them up pretty quickly because those are the sources that they trust.

SANDERS: Yeah. And that's the thing. It's like left and right America seem to be consuming the world in entirely different ways right now. And I bet a lot of people on either side get their news about the other side from sources the other side would never get their news from.

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: If that makes sense.

MCCAMMON: Right.

SANDERS: And so that just leads to further division, further separation and a further inability to kind of find any kind of common ground. Do you see any of that getting better from what you see out in the field and outside of the Beltway?

MCCAMMON: I mean, it's tough because people do - I think they're so distrustful right now of anybody who's different. And they're - you know, the world is complicated, right? I mean...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...There are all these ideas - and especially in the information age, there's so much information coming at you constantly.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: How do you make sense of it all? Well, you know, people do tend to filter it through. They watch MSNBC or they watch FOX. They go to their pastor or they go to their - you know, their friends. You know, everybody has these sort of ways of making sense of it. And we all kind of have our tribes, you know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And it's very hard to get past that. And I think I hear a desire for people to get past that. I mean, you know, I heard everybody this weekend in Charlottesville saying, we've got to come together. We've got to get past this. You know, we - racism is so ugly. This isn't who we are. This isn't who we want to be. I heard everybody saying that. And throughout the campaign, too, I talked to so many voters who were so frustrated with the political rhetoric and with the divisiveness of Congress and with the options offered them by the two parties.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: And yet for whatever reason, people retreat to their corners so fast. And I don't see it getting better. I feel like - I mean, the last couple weeks, it feels like, in - or months even - I mean, in some ways, it feels like it's getting worse. Things like Charlottesville make it feel like it's getting worse. I don't know how you actually measure that.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. And it's hard because, like, it's not like people just carve out their tribes, but they make this very public display of doing so. All the people who are like, I had unfollow this person or de-friend this person, or I'll never go to that person's house again, or I'll never talk to that relative. And on the one hand, you're like, I get it. You know, it's hard to have those rough conversations with someone that you really disagree with. But if everybody does that, is any progress ever made?

MCCAMMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: I don't know.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, I mean, the right - people on the right use this term virtue signaling a lot - right? - to talk about - often it's to sort of mock people on the left who are, you know, quick to, like, post their...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Racism is awful, you know, memes, or whatever. I think it's actually kind of a useful term. And I think it happens across the spectrum.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: You know, it - virtue signaling can just mean, you know...

SANDERS: Here's what I stand for.

MCCAMMON: Well, here's the group I'm in. And, you know, I think we've all seen on social media...

SANDERS: People do it all the time.

MCCAMMON: And games of one-upmanship, right?

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

MCCAMMON: Like, who can...

SANDERS: I'm more woke than you.

MCCAMMON: Who can be more woke, right?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: And, I mean, I don't know if it's - social media's causing this, but I don't think it's helping.

SANDERS: Totally.

MCCAMMON: And then, you know, just everything that's happening in Washington with partisanship, you know, there are a lot of things going at once here. But...

SANDERS: Yeah. So speaking of social media, I want to make a call right now with a listener who is going to talk to us about some interactions he's had, since Charlottesville, about race and some other issues, with people in his life on social media. From what I understand, it didn't go too well, but he's going to talk it out with us.

MCCAMMON: OK.

SANDERS: I think we have Keith (ph) on the line.

KEITH: I'm here.

SANDERS: Hey, man, how are you?

KEITH: I'm all right. How are you?

SANDERS: Good. I'm in the booth with my friend Sarah McCammon. You probably know her voice.

MCCAMMON: Hi, Keith.

KEITH: Hey, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: How's it going?

KEITH: It's good. I love your Twitter feed, by the way.

MCCAMMON: Oh, thanks.

SANDERS: (Laughter) So we're talking with people this afternoon. I put a call-out on Twitter asking if the events in Charlottesville over the weekend have changed the way that they'll talk about race with friends, family, loved ones, co-workers. And you responded and said you've already had an interaction. How'd it go, and what happened?

KEITH: Well, let me just describe for you what happened.

SANDERS: OK.

KEITH: So I'm a Twitter user and not so much Facebook. So occasionally, I'll just scroll through Facebook to see what other people are up to. And I was just scrolling down. And I saw a friend of mine that I haven't spoken to for a while, but we used to be really close. He liked a post by some guy I've never heard of...

SANDERS: OK.

KEITH: ...Comparing terrorist attacks committed with a car driven by Islamic extremists and white supremacists. And it goes through just a logic chain of how the media and society excuses Islam extremist terrorists and crucifies Republicans for white supremacist terrorist attacks. So I could see that my friend liked that, and I called him out on it.

SANDERS: So what'd you say?

KEITH: Verbatim, I said, the fact that you like this post is disturbing to me. I've always considered you a friend and a good person, so I need to ask you these questions. Are you anti-Islam? Are you pro-white supremacy? Are you equivocating Islam with white supremacy?

SANDERS: And what'd he say?

KEITH: (Laughter) He said a lot. He started out with the answers would be no, no, and no. But then he kind of called me out and said, hey, by the way, the flow chart says Islamic extremists, not Islam. And I had to point out to him that it does say Islam. Two other people chimed in - two people I've never met before, one with the same last name as the friend I was talking to directly. And they were not on my side of that argument.

SANDERS: So there was no good conversation had, I'm guessing, from what you're telling me.

KEITH: No. I can't tell from my perspective. I think I was doing my best to listen to what they were having to say and respond reasonably, but they got into a lot of what-aboutisms (ph) and kind of insults.

SANDERS: Do you - I mean, so a lot of people now will feel an urgency about talking about race with people in their lives. Do you think those kind of conversations are best had via social media or in person or, like, on the phone? Do you think this might have gone better had you both been sharing a beer?

KEITH: I really don't know.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KEITH: I've tried to have these conversations in person. I've only done that successfully once.

SANDERS: What made that successful - that one time?

KEITH: Well - and a lot of people would consider me taking the other position on this particular issue - was concerning police shootings. In one particular police shooting, I absolutely was on the side that it was a necessary police action. And the person I was talking to was on the other side - that it was unnecessary police action. And that went really well. And we were drinking beer at the time, so maybe that (unintelligible).

SANDERS: Maybe the beer helped. So you're in - you are in the military, correct?

KEITH: I was in the military.

SANDERS: You were, OK. Going forward, how has Charlottesville changed the way you think about the need for these conversations and the onus on you to kind of lead them? Do you feel an added pressure now to talk these kind of things out with people in your life? And if so, how are you going to do things differently?

KEITH: I don't know if you can tell over the phone, but I am a stereotypical 39-year-old heterosexual white male. And what I saw in Charlottesville was a lot of young white men that I could serve as the role model for. And I realize I haven't been doing that. I realize now that maybe young white men need role models, just like everybody else do. They need somebody that they can relate to. And maybe I haven't been serving that role.

SANDERS: How do you do that then?

KEITH: I think it's a reach-out thing because the area of the country where I live in - I live in Tennessee, which I remember going to work about a decade ago, and we regularly, like, bi-annually, would have warnings - hey, there's a really strong Klan presence in this area. Be careful on your way to work today.

SANDERS: Wow.

KEITH: Maybe I need to start reaching out to those communities. Maybe I need to start volunteering in high schools and setting that example.

MCCAMMON: Do you think people like that would be receptive, Keith? I mean, do you think - have you known any folks like that? And do you think that they would listen?

KEITH: I, like, I can't - I don't know. I can only speak from personal experience because when I was in the Army, I went through infantry school. And that was strictly male back then. And I became very sexist at that point. I thought, there is no way a woman should serve in an infantry role.

And then I deployed, and I served with some of the first female troops put in a combat scenario. And those women, they killed it. I mean, they were amazing. And I was - that changed my mind because I had that role model. So I know I was able to be changed by being exposed to that influence. So that's really all I have to go to base it on.

SANDERS: Well, keep us posted on how things go for you and how these conversations go and what you end up figuring out about trying to be a role model for people. But thanks for your call and being open and talking about this stuff - really appreciate it.

KEITH: Thank you, guys. I mean, really keep up the good work.

SANDERS: Thanks, man.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

SANDERS: Have a good day. It's really interesting hearing him talk about this what-aboutism (ph) and hearing the way that our president kind of danced around this. Just today, he finally made some concrete statements denouncing white supremacy and the KKK and white nationalism. But that's - that was some 72 hours after the events of Saturday.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. And it was basically the third statement from him or the White House on this. So...

SANDERS: To get it right.

MCCAMMON: ...It took a long time to get it right. And, as you know, there was a lot of criticism...

SANDERS: From Republicans and Democrats.

MCCAMMON: ...As well. Yeah, Republicans, as well.

SANDERS: And like, I wonder how much what the president says or does not say influences some of these young men that we see out at these protests. I mean, I think everyone would say the president has a duty to say certain things after certain events happen. But how much do we think what he says actually can affect some of these people that already hold these views?

MCCAMMON: I mean, I don't think it just affects the extremists...

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...Because, again, I mean, this sort of - there's blame to go around, I hear that a lot. And I don't mean to entirely dismiss that concern. I mean, clearly, when you have, you know, an intense volatile situation, sometimes punches get thrown on either side.

SANDERS: Exactly.

MCCAMMON: That is true.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: It is probably worth everybody asking, in each situation, is this worth it? Is this a good idea?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: Is this a smart decision?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: So I'm not disagreeing with that. But, you know, at what point, do you go from that kind of consideration to sort of equating civil rights activists with...

SANDERS: The KKK.

MCCAMMON: ...White supremacists and the KKK, right? So I think that when he says things like all sides, many sides, I think it reinforces that idea, which isn't just out there with the extremists. I mean, I think it's something that a lot of people on the right are talking about. And, you know, I'm not sure - I'm just not sure what to make of it, honestly, because it's kind of - at the same time that we hear these very clear denunciations of the KKK, I don't hear the same clear support for those who are there to oppose them.

SANDERS: Yeah, no, totally. And I also - what's been so weird to me is the mixed messages out of the administration. So at the same time Trump makes his cryptic statement on Saturday, you've got Jeff Sessions in a statement saying this was domestic terrorism. You've got H.R. McMaster - Donald Trump's national security adviser - called it terrorism on the Sunday shows. Ivanka Trump - Donald Trump's daughter - said we have to say that this stuff is wrong. So it's like, it's almost as if everyone in the administration is, like, kind of out there on their own. And there's no clarity in this messaging from Trump until literally three days later, which means it's not actually that clear at all.

MCCAMMON: Well, this is very much in keeping with Trump world.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: I mean, it...

SANDERS: When - I mean, like when David Duke endorsed him - former KKKer (ph) David Duke - took him a few days then to denounce that.

MCCAMMON: It did. And also, just more broadly, the sense that there isn't always one message coming from the administration, or in the past, from the campaign. You know, you sometimes have Mike Pence off saying things that seem a little bit at odds with what the president's saying. And I think, you know, my sense is that, in many cases, people working for Trump carry out their plans and their agenda, and Trump just does what he wants to do.

SANDERS: Yeah. And it's as if they planned for Trump to be all over the map anyway.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, and that's what's not clear to me, actually, is how intentional - you know, was this a conscious effort to sort of appease the hard-right? Was this, you know, just a sort of certain tone deafness? I mean, I think a lot of people are positing that it was an effort to appease the hard right. I obviously can't look into the mind of the president and know that. And, of course, he has come out now and made a clearer statement. But, yeah, it's hard to make sense of why you have so many different messages.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: But it's not new.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Thanks to Sarah. And Keith is right - she is a very good follow on Twitter. All right, we're going to close the show with a handful of calls here, including one with a developmental psychologist. She has some really interesting ideas about why white people don't talk about race and why they should. But first, we have Krista (ph) on the line. Krista, you there?

KRISTA: I'm there. I'm here.

(LAUGHTER)

KRISTA: Yes.

SANDERS: How are you?

KRISTA: I'm doing well. How about you?

SANDERS: I'm all right. I hear you're in Texas. Where in Texas?

KRISTA: Fort Worth, Texas.

SANDERS: Oh, OK, OK.

KRISTA: Yeah, you were down in our area last year a little bit.

SANDERS: I was, I was.

KRISTA: Yeah.

SANDERS: So you wrote to us, to Brent and I, about a Facebook...

KRISTA: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...Post that you wrote this weekend...

KRISTA: Right.

SANDERS: ...That kind of sounds like it sums up the conversation that might be happening in some parts of white America right now.

KRISTA: Right.

SANDERS: Sum up that post and the response you got to it.

KRISTA: Yeah. Well, really, all I did was I posted an article - The Washington Post article. And I said, you know, sometimes we talk about racism and white supremacy like it's theoretical or imagined.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: It's not. I'm sorry. My voice might be shaking a little bit.

SANDERS: No, you're...

KRISTA: I get kind of...

SANDERS: ...Doing good.

KRISTA: ...Worked up about this.

SANDERS: You're doing good.

KRISTA: So what happened with this post was that I said all those things, and people that I don't - people that I know in real life - I got these responses that were like, I understand your points, but First Amendment, Black Lives Matter is just as bad, or if not, worse, which I completely disagree with, but I know I'm not going to win that argument online. I got - what else did I get? Oh, are these really white supremacists? Maybe they just like Civil War history.

SANDERS: Really? Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Hold up. You have to work to say that kind of thing.

KRISTA: Yeah, you really do.

SANDERS: Because there are pictures of them...

KRISTA: You have to work...

SANDERS: ...Making a Nazi salute, wearing the swastikas. That's literally...

KRISTA: Yes.

SANDERS: So then what do you...

KRISTA: And that was why - what did I do (laughter)?

SANDERS: First, go ahead, finish your train of thought.

KRISTA: I got quite a bit of support, I must clarify.

SANDERS: OK.

KRISTA: And I got a lot of outside support. I got a lot of people texting me going like, I see what you posted. Like, I agree with you. I support you. The comments are crazy. Like, it's OK.

SANDERS: But isn't that...

KRISTA: Like, you're handling it well.

SANDERS: ...Kind of part of the problem? Like, if they support you and if they stand with you, shouldn't they - or, I mean, like, do you think they should do it publicly? Is part of the problem, you know, the nice people that don't want to put theirselves (ph) out there in the way that you did?

KRISTA: Well, I mean, I think that's a super fair critique. I would hope that they are being public about these types of things...

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: ...In other ways.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: Because social media's such like a...

SANDERS: It's a snake pit kind of.

KRISTA: ...Dumpster fire.

SANDERS: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Anyway, but those more critical comments.

KRISTA: So but back to they just like their Civil War history because this person has a history in their family of, like, family members that had fought in the Civil War. And I basically was like, you know, I'm not here to argue about your heritage or what experience happened there or whatever. So I just said, it sounds like you know a lot about your history, and I'm trying to learn and educate myself on the histories of people who are traditionally marginalized and oppressed. If you want the resources that I have been using, the people I've been following online, the books I've been reading, the articles I've been reading, I'm happy to share those with you.

SANDERS: What did they say to that?

KRISTA: They liked the post (laughter).

SANDERS: OK.

KRISTA: They liked the comment. And they didn't respond, you know.

SANDERS: So it's - it seems like all that you're trying to do to educate people around you, to start conversation, it's probably going to have - it takes up a lot of emotional and mental bandwidth. It's hard work, and it's emotional work. Like, how long do you think you can keep this up? And how much energy can you devote to it? Like, do you get tired?

KRISTA: Yeah. Well, I'm a teacher, so I'm in in-service today. So I'm talking to you on my lunch break.

SANDERS: Oh, thank you for that.

KRISTA: Oh, it's no problem. Well, I work at a really great school. We have plenty of time for lunch (laughter). So this all happened on Saturday. And I probably spent, like, I don't know - it was like three or four hours, like, just kind of monitoring...

SANDERS: Wow.

KRISTA: ...What was being said and how I would do that. Yeah, I can't do that during the school year. It's not - like, I've got other things. I've got...

SANDERS: Yeah, you've got a full-time job.

KRISTA: ...You know, 80 - yeah, I've got a full-time job. I've got 8,200 kids. The hardest part for me is - this stuff is pretty, like - not easy, but it's planned. It's sort of like, I had time to think about what I wanted to say. The hardest part for me is, like, when you encounter conversations that tend to go in, like, casually racist ways.

SANDERS: How do you deal with those?

KRISTA: Not very well.

SANDERS: What do you do?

KRISTA: I - (laughter) sometimes, I call it out. And what is hard is that it feels like I have every right and responsibility to confront it and to be really forceful, but I also don't want to completely shut down conversation and dialogue. And I want to listen, too. It doesn't really sound like I want to listen based on what I'm saying, I think (laughter). But it's hard for me to know now, like, how do I navigate those?

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: When it's worth it to have that conversation.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: You asked me, you know, how are you dealing with this, like, emotionally? This is...

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: ...Like, emotional hard work and stuff like that.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: I mean, like, I basically, like, mentally preached a sermon in my head, like, last night from, like - I don't know - 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. just because I woke up, and I was, like...

SANDERS: Wow.

KRISTA: ...Thinking about it.

SANDERS: Did you write it down?

KRISTA: Not yet.

SANDERS: Write it down.

KRISTA: (Laughter) Yeah.

SANDERS: You got to write it down.

KRISTA: Yeah. But I just - it's hard, but I just keep going back to, like, as a person of faith, it's a lot - like, in terms of how you fight it, I think you have to talk about it, and I think you have to repent from it. I think you have to notice that it's there, name it, and then you have to say, I have to recognize how I've benefited from white supremacy. I don't have to...

SANDERS: How do you think you did?

KRISTA: ...Worry about - I don't have to worry about race. I don't have to worry that somebody is being extra careful when they speak around me. I don't have to worry that when I submit my resume that somebody's going to look at my name and go, I don't know about this. I don't have to worry about stuff like that. So I've benefited because my life's pretty easy, you know.

SANDERS: Well, I think...

KRISTA: Have I talked too long?

SANDERS: No, this is great.

KRISTA: I'm so sorry.

SANDERS: No, no, this is great.

KRISTA: OK (laughter).

SANDERS: I just want to thank you for being so thoughtful. And I'm going to leave you with this - I grew up in the church, as well. And if anybody in my church growing up would have woken up at 2 o'clock with an hour-long sermon in their hearts and in their heads, we would have said to them, sounds like you should be a preacher. So...

KRISTA: (Laughter).

SANDERS: ...Think about the calling you have on your life (laughter). And thank you for your time today. Thank you.

KRISTA: Thank you.

SANDERS: I really appreciate it.

KRISTA: Thanks for calling.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KRISTA: Have a great day.

SANDERS: You, too.

KRISTA: Bye.

SANDERS: Bye.

All right. Time for another call. This one's from Charlottesville. We have Ellie (ph) on the line. Ellie, are you there?

ELLIE: Yeah.

SANDERS: Hey, how are you?

ELLIE: Good. How are you?

SANDERS: Good. Happy Monday.

ELLIE: Thank you. You, too.

SANDERS: Where, in relation to the place where things went down, do you live in Charlottesville?

ELLIE: I live about five or six miles from downtown.

SANDERS: Were you there over the weekend?

ELLIE: I was in town. I didn't go downtown.

SANDERS: Yeah.

ELLIE: My husband drove down there in the morning.

SANDERS: Just to see it?

ELLIE: Yeah. And he said - he went down there at, like, maybe 8:30 or 9. And the whole thing was supposed to start at noon.

SANDERS: They were there early, though, right?

ELLIE: But they were already - yeah, they were already there. He said it was a really palpable building of tension to something. And I mean, it was like bad vibes from the get-go, I think.

SANDERS: What was it like to watch on CNN or see on Twitter news about this crazy, crazy situation and know that it was literally kind of in your backyard?

ELLIE: It - I have to say, I've - because I've seen like national vigils in honor - in solidarity with Charlottesville. I always thought - I always think, I wonder if those people who are actually affected by this thing that I care about, if we have a vigil way over here, do they actually care we're doing it? And I realized, like, I really do. I really do care that another town somewhere else says, we're with you. I thought that was really cool. But then, at the same time, like I said, I'm a little bit away from downtown. And I actually on Saturday morning, I went to Costco (laughter). I had to buy groceries. And...

SANDERS: Good American.

ELLIE: Yeah, right? I love Costco (laughter).

SANDERS: Ditto. Their roast chicken...

ELLIE: I looked around and...

SANDERS: Sorry, I'm sidebarring. They have the best roast chicken.

ELLIE: Yeah. Well, no, they put their roast chicken in their chicken noodle soup. And it's super good, by the way.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

ELLIE: So I was - I had - clearly, I have, like, diversity on my mind. But so I was just looking around at Costco. And there were all different kinds of people at Costco, like all ages, all different. And we were all just, like, buying our chickens.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

ELLIE: And, like, the cashier was a black guy. And his name tag said Innocent. And I really wanted to ask him if his name was really Innocent or if he was making, like, a statement that day?

SANDERS: It probably really was Innocent because a lot of Africans have names like that. Like, I lived in South Africa for a summer and the - like, I had friends whose names were like Pride, Humility, Justice.

ELLIE: Oh, OK, that's...

SANDERS: It's a thing, yeah, yeah, yeah. So lots of African nations name that way.

ELLIE: I assumed that was really his name. But I was just - and I thought - and I just - like, just - I was there, stayed there. And I was, you know - there was all these different people. And this was all going on as we were all at Costco, just shopping and...

SANDERS: Yeah, how did that feel?

ELLIE: Well, I actually posted about it on Facebook just to, like, put a little good vibes out there, just to say, like, I love Costco. And there's a lot of people at Costco all just, like, being together. And we were all just coexisting together. And so at the same time, where what was happening downtown was really, really important, clearly, also in Charlottesville, there's just people being people still.

SANDERS: How do you - yeah.

ELLIE: And I thought that was really important.

SANDERS: Yeah. So, Ellie, I understand that you have two kids in public school there. Have they asked you about race or racism in your town? And if they've asked you, what do you say to them?

ELLIE: I tried to a little bit not to mention much about it. And it's interesting because they use, like, oh, that kid has brown skin as like the way that we would say, oh, she's the blond girl or that's the tall guy or whatever. Like, they just use it as a way to, like, talk about their friends. And so then, I don't really know how to say like, OK, so these are the guys that come and when you see that flag, that usually means they believe this and this and this because right now, I can tell that they don't have all those categories totally solidified in their minds. Like, they just...

SANDERS: Yeah, how old are they?

ELLIE: Nine and 6. And they go to a school where they have, like, a lot of black friends. Like, my younger son, like - I actually don't know if he could speak to his friends because they all spoke Spanish.

(LAUGHTER)

ELLIE: He was like - he kept telling me how bad he wanted to learn Spanish so he could talk to his friends. But so I didn't know how much I could inform that. So they know that - I told - they knew bad people were in town. But I don't know how to talk about - without creating an opinion that they haven't created yet. And I think it's really interesting to watch that they don't really have the whole, heavy idea of race yet. They just see, like, their friends.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Well...

ELLIE: And I don't know when to say anything or how to say anything.

SANDERS: Well, strangely enough, one of the calls we're going to make today with a listener - she is a developmental psychologist. So she's going to talk about how she deals with that with children. And if you listen to the show tomorrow...

ELLIE: Oh, that's really interesting.

SANDERS: ...There will be something in there about that. Yeah.

ELLIE: Yeah.

SANDERS: It's hard. It's hard.

ELLIE: And I think there's going to be - yeah.

SANDERS: It's like, when do you have the sex talk with your kids? When do you have the whatever talk? Like, when are they ready for it? And as someone who has no kids, I don't know.

ELLIE: Yeah. Oh, my son - my older son is 9. He's finally mentioned one thing because some kid who was an older brother told him about something. And it was so uncomfortable already.

SANDERS: Like sexual in nature?

ELLIE: He was like, it sounds really gross to me. It's super gross. And I was like, yeah, OK. Well, someday it won't be. I don't know. OK. All right. Never mind.

(LAUGHTER)

ELLIE: I have no idea how to answer him.

SANDERS: 2017, the year of difficult conversations.

ELLIE: Yeah.

SANDERS: Hey, well, I thank you for your time. And thanks for listening. And have a great day.

ELLIE: Yeah, you, too. Thanks so much.

SANDERS: Yeah, take care.

ELLIE: Bye.

SANDERS: Bye.

OK, before we get to this next call, I want to give you guys a heads up. This is a developmental psychologist. She's going to have some constructive criticism and critique. But we don't want this to be heard as a shade on anyone out there, any listeners, any parents. And definitely no shade on the previous caller, Ellie, who we think is awesome. So here's this call, Amy. She's a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas at Tyler. Amy, you there?

AMY ROBERSON HAYES: Yes.

SANDERS: Hey, how are you?

HAYES: Hi. Hi, Sam. I'm so excited to get to talk to you.

SANDERS: Likewise. Likewise. How's your day going?

HAYES: Oh, it's great so far, hanging out in the office with my 4-year-old.

SANDERS: OK, that sounds like a fun day. Where are you located?

HAYES: I'm a psychology professor. So I'm at my office on campus in Tyler - Tyler, Texas.

SANDERS: Tyler, you know what? I - we used to go to Longview, Texas every year for a church revival.

HAYES: Yeah, that's right down the road.

SANDERS: I know. And there was - what was the place in Longview that I'd always get food at? The Catfish King, K-I-N-G.

HAYES: Oh, yeah. That's a thing.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah, Catfish King is a thing. And I remember when I was like 18 or 19, there was a sign - or probably even later than that. It was like, Catfish King, now with free Wi-Fi.

HAYES: (Laughter).

SANDERS: And I was like, who wants to...

HAYES: Like that'll get you to come.

SANDERS: Like that'll get me to Catfish King. Either I'm coming for the catfish or I'm not coming at all. Anyway...

HAYES: Not to study.

SANDERS: Yeah (laughter). So you work with kids?

HAYES: I do. Well, I work with college students. And then I do research about child development. So I get to interview kids about a lot of really sticky stuff.

SANDERS: Yeah, I've been talking a lot with people since the events of this weekend about how adults need to have some serious conversations about race. What about kids (laughter)? How do they deal with things that happened this past Saturday?

HAYES: Yeah, I mean...

SANDERS: And how should their parents deal with it with them?

HAYES: Yeah. So I've seen a lot. And I'm sure you have, too. Sort of the knee-jerk reaction, I think, from white parents with white kids, things like hate is learned or hate is taught and kids are colorblind. And, you know, and there's always the picture of, like, the little, white kid and the little, black kid hugging each other.

And I think that white parents see the news. And they think that, well, those people marching in those white supremacist rallies and in the KKK, they must have had these terrible parents, who read them KKK bedtime stories. And so my kids won't ever end up like that.

And so they - I think, it's just sort of, like, a passive take on it. And they think if they don't ever mention it, if they don't ever talk about it, their kids won't be racist. But what we know is that kids definitely aren't colorblind. Like, they literally see each color.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

HAYES: And if you don't talk to them about it, they will try to talk to you about it. And what we know is that white parents especially kind of shut it down 'cause they think if they mention it, if they point it out, then my kid's going to be racist. When really, if you don't talk to them about it, they figure out, A, first of all, this is, like, a bad thing I'm not supposed to talk about.

And then, B, they go learn about it from other places or they're just, like, left to their own devices to figure it out. And they see these discrepancies between groups in their environment, and they come to really horrible conclusions if you don't.

SANDERS: Like what?

HAYES: That, well, I see people in my neighborhood in nice houses and those people are white. And I see black people in other neighborhoods in not nice houses. And so there must be something wrong with them. They must not be good people because they don't live in, like, a fancy house or something like that. Oh, I have a really good friend from grad school who did a study about white kids' attitudes about race.

And she asked them to just, like, label pictures - like, a stack of pictures of, like, white people and black people and what do you call these groups? And there was a 5-year-old kid who called them smoked people and not smoked people.

SANDERS: Wow.

HAYES: And my friend was like, well, I don't know where that came from. And she asked the parent about it later. And she said, oh, my gosh. I just taught my kid yesterday that if you smoke, your lungs turn black and you get lung cancer. And so this kid is walking around in the world thinking that black people are black because...

SANDERS: Woah.

HAYES: ...Of lung cancer...

SANDERS: Whoa. Oh, my goodness.

HAYES: ...Because nobody...

SANDERS: 'Cause no one told them.

HAYES: No. And so they're like, well, I have to figure this out. Kids are super smart, and they see patterns. And they try to come up with some sort of logical reason for the patterns that they see in the world. And it's really parents' job to, A, figure out what it is that they think and then try to counteract it if there's something really, you know...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAYES: ...Wrong or terrible going on there. It takes a lot of work. I think people think that the default is that kids won't be racist. But we know that the default is that people like to prefer their own group.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

HAYES: You have to work against that. And it starts really early.

SANDERS: So then knowing that and someone who is kind of versed in these issues, what kind of talk did you have with your children on Saturday, on Sunday, on today about the events in Charlottesville?

HAYES: So my kids are still pretty young.

SANDERS: OK.

HAYES: So one is, like, 1.5 and then my kid who's here with me is 4. And so one thing that's really important when you're talking to kids about things is to tailor it to sort of their level of understanding.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAYES: So with really young kids, the best thing to do is to make sure that they're not in sort of a homogenous, like, all-white environment. Like, if you start exposing them to these ideas like I like people who are different than me, I like all this diversity in the world and giving them books and toys and friends and schools that are diverse and beautiful like that, that's where you have to start. If I had older kids, even like 5, 6, 7, I think you can explicitly talk to them about, like, who these groups are, call them by name, talk to them about why do you think people hate other people?

Where is the hate and the anger coming from? I think parents are really scared - and, I mean, you probably know this. It's not that all parents don't talk to their kids about race. White parents are afraid to talk to their kids about race. But kids of color grow up hearing these conversation because they have to. It's, like - it's an essential part of their socialization to learn about how they fit in.

SANDERS: And it's so funny 'cause it's, like, I think back literally to all of the talks my parents gave me about race growing up - I mean, so many talks. And I'm just like, man, if I could offload 25 percent of those race conversations to my white friends growing up (laughter)...

HAYES: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...I'd be a little bit less burdened. They'd be a little bit more enlightened. Everybody wins...

HAYES: Yes. Yes, and, I mean...

SANDERS: ...'Cause, honestly, sometimes I was like, I'm hearing this too much, Mom. I'm hearing this too much, Dad. Yeah, it's something.

HAYES: And, I mean, that's part of privilege. That's part of white privilege is to think that you don't have to notice, that you don't have to talk about it, you don't have to teach your kids about it. It's our job. I mean, I think, you know, white parents have to try harder. You have to try harder and counteract sort of any natural impulses to just, like, prefer your own group.

There's some really good things that I've seen circulating on Twitter. There was a hashtag Charlottesville curriculum. I don't know if you've seen that...

SANDERS: I'll look that up.

HAYES: ...Where people are starting to post resources for teachers, for educators, for how to talk to kids about specifically what happened this weekend, but also, in general, how to talk to them about prejudice, even just start by asking your kid if they've heard about it or what they think about it. Because in my research, what I've found - and sometimes, it's really funny, but sometimes it's really sad - how much kids are listening when parents don't think they're listening to what they're saying.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, one of the things, especially, that I felt like a lot of us heard during the Obama years was, oh, we're going to age out of racism. This is a new day. The world's becoming brown. Everyone gets it, like, eventually, we'll all just be the same shade of whatever and racism will be gone. And I think some of those images of the young men that were out in Charlottesville over the weekend totally refuted that.

These were young, young men that were doing some of the things that a lot of Americans, I think, thought stopped 30, 40 years ago. Are you hopeful about some of this stuff going away? I mean, given that you've seen a lot of conversations about race with children go wrong or not happen at all, are you hopeful that we, at some point, age out of this stuff?

HAYES: I think that, as long as people continue to work really hard at it, it's possible. I mean, I study all sorts of different kinds of prejudice and discrimination, with gender, too. And as long as there continue to be discrepancies between the groups on equal access to resources and people see segregation in their lives, people are going to come up with reasons to explain it that are more or less nefarious. One of the things I was going to say is I didn't - I wasn't surprised to see how young the crowd is.

SANDERS: Really?

HAYES: And I almost think it is a little bit of the Obama effect, and not in a it's-his-fault way at all. I think that...

SANDERS: Explain.

HAYES: I think that people thought, OK, like you said, we have a black president now. So it's over, racism is over. I don't have to talk to my kids about it anymore. Racism is not a thing anymore. So maybe you've got that generation of young men - and women, there are women there, too - you know, kind of missing out on those critical years of people talking to them about it. I mean, I think there was this, like you said, whole sigh of relief as a country. And some people took it too far, like, OK, now we don't have to teach people or worry about this anymore because, obviously, racism is not a thing. Hold on. Hey, Henry (ph), sweetie. I'm on the phone.

SANDERS: Hi, Henry.

HAYES: Can you say, hi, Sam?

HENRY: Hi, Sam.

HAYES: Hi.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAYES: I just wish some of those 19 and 20-year-old guys, like somebody could have gotten them, you know, when they were in elementary school, when Obama was elected and had a talk to them about what prejudice is and what white privilege is.

SANDERS: Well, you are doing the Lord's work. And thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. And I hope you and Henry have a wonderful afternoon.

HAYES: Thank you, Sam. It's been a real treat. Thank you for calling.

SANDERS: Oh, thank you. Take care.

HAYES: OK. Bye.

SANDERS: All right.

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SANDERS: Amy Roberson Hayes is a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas at Tyler. All right. One last thing. As promised, I have some thoughts for white people on talking about race and thinking about race better. I shared this on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend, but I want to say it out loud right now.

First, there's two things people of color or Jewish people, Latino people, LGBTQ people - two things they don't need to hear from white people right now. Don't apologize to us for what happened this weekend in Virginia if you weren't there, if you didn't do it. And two, don't use these events as a reason to go out of your way to convince a person of color that you aren't racist or anti-semitic or whatever. Those kind of statements don't help, and they're actually more about you than about the problem.

So what I think would be much more productive in my mind for white people right now is for white people to talk to other white people and to think about a few things. One, make sure that you teach your children about race. Two, advocate for diversity and inclusion in your workplace. And when you see or hear racist or biased behavior from co-workers, even if it's just a joke, shut it down and call it out. Three, confront your relative or your close friend that you know is racist and keeps doing and saying racist things. Stop ignoring it. Ignoring it makes you part of the problem.

Four, question your daily interactions. Who do you choose to see or ignore? Who do you acknowledge or forget? Who do you befriend, and who do you walk by? And five, question how you may enforce systemic racism and bias through the neighborhood you choose to live in, the school you send your kids to or what you buy and how you buy it. And when you do all of this and think about all of these things, I would urge you not to ask a member of those marginalized groups to help coach you through this. We're tired.

All right. It is all off my chest. I am done. I am not talking about this for the next few days. That's the show. We promised to get you the Onion episode very soon. That will be a lot more fun than this week's. And, of course, we'll be back with our scheduled Friday episode at the regular time, maybe 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday. I'll be taping that one from Los Angeles at NPR West studios. So heads up, LA, cannot wait to see you. Need some beach time.

Thanks today to all of our callers and for everyone that got in touch because they wanted to talk. There's a lot more dialogue out there than we had time for, so make yourself a part of it. And don't forget, because we are for sure going to need it this week, send me the sound of your own voice describing the best thing that happened to you all week to samsanders@npr.org. That's for the Friday wrap. All right. All right. Be good to yourselves. I'm Sam Sanders. Thank you for listening. Talk soon.

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