“I was hesitant to engage with bridge building efforts, not wanting to entertain any perspectives or people that didn’t align with what my vision of liberation was,” remembers Brialle Ringer, Living Room Conversations Race and Equity Partner. Brialle and Joan Blades were recent guests at Omega Institute for a conversation on Building Unity: What Will it Take?
The event led Brialle to share more about her evolution towards bridge building. “Now I see the value of connecting across difference—whether it be speaking with non-vegans or holding the tension of being bi-racial and having White folks in my life that I love deeply, and don’t always agree with—my life feels more rich, full, and varied having different people and perspectives in my life to learn from one another.
I find that I’m often pleasantly surprised by the ways we align, agree, and find common ground when we actually get into conversation and release the stories we have about the “other.”
I find that [bridge building] work requires me to give up my staunch belief that I’m right and my way to liberation is the only way, thus I only need to talk to folks who agree with me and share my vision.”
During the conversation with Omega, Brialle told a story about attending family reunions on the white, conservative side of her family after a prolonged absence where she didn’t feel comfortable showing up. She found that her practice with Living Room Conversations gave her the tools to connect and understand people that she loved and who loved her.
Conversations expand the one-dimensional stories we tell ourselves about each other. Learning about where we disagree gives us insight into our own assumptions and blind spots, helping to generate compassion for the biases and blind spots of “the other.”
It’s only when we see that being a jumbled mess of contradictions is a part of being human that the necessary and urgent work of truth-seeking can begin.
“If I want to move the needle on any of these issues I care for deeply, it requires relationship, connection, and conversation,” Brialle continues. “Even when we don’t agree, there’s value in being in relationship with one another.”