How to hold a conversation about advancing racial truth and reconciliation | Opinion – Tennessean – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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A Black man and white woman who are experts in diversity, equity and inclusion model how to talk about fighting racism and offer practical tips.

Anthony Hicks and Shelly Tochluk  |  Guest Columnists


  • Anthony Hicks is a recently retired public relations professional and PR profession diversity advocate residing in Memphis.
  • Shelly Tochluk is a professor in the Education Department at Mount Saint Mary’s University-Los Angeles.

Communities across the nation and in Tennessee have a window of opportunity to build the emerging national conversation on race into a transformative movement. 

Unprecedented racial progress is possible with broad commitment to actionable strategies and tactics to achieve common goals. 

It’s too late to disrupt the current of race that has run through my life, but there should be an urgency to dismantle race as an impediment for future generations. 

Growing up in my home state of Arkansas, I remember going through the “colored entrance” of a local diner in the early 1960s and having to sit in the balcony of movie theaters. In the 1980s, a young white girl stared at me in a supermarket and said, “Look momma, there’s a (n-word),” to the woman with her.

When I moved to Memphis in 1983, I responded to a classified newspaper ad for an apartment for rent. The person on the telephone casually told me: “It’s for a white couple.”

In the early 2000s, I had a job that required driving across the state. One afternoon when I was headed back to Memphis, I parked at a gas station in Kingston Springs to rest. The young white boy walking past my rented car must have thought I was asleep when he spit on the car and flashed a smile.  

With the recent rise in intolerance, 2022 can be the start of a reinvigorated, community-based commitment to diversi

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