Learn from Daryl Davis, a black musician who has devoted himself to convincing white supremacists to leave the Ku Klux Klan, with surprising success.
In a February 2017 Atlantic magazine article titled ‘Every Racist I Know Voted for Donald Trump’, Conor Friedersdorf spoke with Davis about his approach. The piece contains wisdom that you can apply when speaking to family and friends who voted for Trump, and even in conversations with diehards.
To summarize Friedersdorf’s distillation of Davis’s approach:
Before you engage, be as familiar with the other person’s position as you are with your own.
Invite them to a conversation–NOT a debate.
Look for things you and they have in common.
Keep talking, even if you have to break off and resume later in the week, or the month, or the year. Being able to keep a conversation going–however tumultuous–is better than refusing to talk. Silence can lead to violence.
Make deliberate efforts to escape your bubble.
If you argue, don’t condescend.
Let the other person explain their cause. Don’t explain it for them.
You may never get as good at talking to your opponents as Davis is–some klansmen have given him their old uniforms as they abandon their bigoted beliefs. But if you can reach even a few people, and get them to think and engage, that is a victory in and of itself.
Read ‘Every Racist I Know Voted for Donald Trump’:
Listen to the episodes of the Love + Radio podcasts where Davis talks about his adventures at length:
Purchase and read Davis’s book, Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan (warning: As of April 2017, it’s out of print and pricey):
Visit Davis’s web site: