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US expert gives tips for Kiwis approaching conversations about race

A US expert has offered Kiwis a few tips on approaching conversations around race in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.

Speaking this morning on TVNZ1's Breakfast, Glenn Singleton of Courageous Conversations said these types of conversations are "precisely what the country is calling out for right now".

"A big part of a conversation is listening," he said, adding that people need to "develop a capacity to listen to another person's truth".

"Many of the stories that we've been told about our racial realities and our race relationships are just not full or complete," Mr Singleton said.

"You hear one conversation of 'this is not New Zealand' and you hear another audience that is saying 'this is absolutely New Zealand' - this is the everyday experience.

"How do we bring those two voices together?

"There's a way that sometimes we can become quite dug in and arrogant about our perspective and experience ... rather than being arrogant and defensive, what if we were curious?

"Just because you're different it doesn't mean we can't get along."

Mr Singleton said everyone has a certain way of thinking which is a product of their surroundings and experiences as they grow.

"All of us were socialised into a way of thinking about how life works - that's our worldview - and race is included in that.

"When we grow up ... and there's limited perspective about how people are living and experiencing the world, that perspective is going to continue until it is interrupted by diversity.

"What we have to acknowledge is that when we get to that place of diversity, it doesn't mean we're bad for what we learned before, but it does mean we're going to have to change."

In terms of approaching conversations, Mr Singleton said it can pay to "do a little homework".

"There's so much written on the history of race in this country - there's so much already recorded in terms of people who have done tremendous work in this field.

"Dame Naida Glavish for example ... just listening to her stories and understanding why it was that she continued to say 'kia ora' versus 'hello'.

"I think the best way to repair the injustices of history is to not repeat them in the present ... that's the best way to progress into a better future."

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    Glenn Singleton of Courageous Conversations explains ways people can approach discussions on diversity. Source: Breakfast