Discussing race these days can feel like walking on eggshells. You never know who you’ll offend if the topic is not handled delicately with an open mind. No matter how you go about it, the purple elephant in the room needs to be addressed in order for communities to find understanding.

A white C-SPAN caller named “Gary” from Fletcher, North Carolina decided not to tap dance around the issue and get straight to the point about his viewpoints on race. On C-SPAN’s live “Washington Journal” show, he admitted his longtime fears of black people and simply wanted to know how he could alleviate his prejudice.

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“Gary” actually sounded rather genuine and perplexed about his bigotry.

“I was hoping your guest could help me change my mind about some things. I’m a white male, and I am prejudiced. And the reason it is is something I wasn’t taught but it’s kind of something that I learned. When I open up the papers, I get very discouraged at what young black males are doing to each other, and the crime rate. I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs — you have to get money for drugs — and it is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when, I have these different fears, and I don’t want my fears to come true. You know, so I try to avoid that, and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don’t like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example. What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?”

Heather McGhee, a guest of the show and president of Demos Action, gave the most fitting response. Her work with the public policy organization for equality made McGhee the most qualified to answer such a complex question about race.

McGhee applauded Gary for his candid remarks and thanked him for being honest in opening up a dialogue that we all can benefit from. She answered with the simplest, yet most striking response.

“Get to know black families,” McGhee said. She also went on to suggest he stop watching nightly news, join an interracial church and to read about the history about African-Americans. Most importantly, she encouraged him to continue fostering these conversations throughout the community.

“We are still a very, very segregated country. Millions of white Americans live in places where they rarely see anyone of a different race,” McGhee added. “This fear and set of ideas that we only get from the worst possible news; it’s tearing us apart.”

Check out the conversation.

How would you have responded to “Gary”? Let us know in the comments.

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