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My Conversation about Race & the Census with Celeste Headlee

Celeste Headlee will Hear You Out - with dignity, civility, intelligence, humility, and good humor

Celeste Headlee has a new show, Hear Me Out, that represents a much needed breath of fresh air and a corrective to conventional approaches to engaging folks in “discussions” of important issues (that too often end up being theater of bombast and incivility) . I know whereof I speak because I had the honor of being on Celeste’s show recently.

Celeste contacted me after reading the Washington Post article, “Race isn’t real, science says. Advocates want the census to reflect that,which featured my views on race and my advocacy for changing how the U.S. Census approaches data on race. She came with questions, concerns, and objections to what she thought I was up to. Thankfully, she also came with an open mind.

I hope you might have roughly forty-five minutes to listen to my conversation with Celeste and/or read the transcript – certainly to hear and think about my views BUT, equally importantly, to get some proof that we can do better than dueling soliloquies, ad hominem quarreling, sarcasm, and tendentious argumentation. We can stand our ground and also walk towards common ground. We can know our mind and change our mind. We can listen with genuine curiosity and not merely with the mission of refuting another person's perspective by any means available. We can start with a thesis and an antithesis and work together to discover or co-create a valuable synthesis.

Thank you, Celeste. Long may Hear Me Out run.

Here’s my proposal to the Census Bureau: How to Improve the 2030 Census Approach to Race Data Collection.  I'll be speaking with my congressperson about it soon. If you have any experience and interest in this kind of change project, please feel encouraged to be get in touch with me.

And here’s the description of Hear Me Out:

Introducing Hear Me Out, Slate’s New Discussion and Debate Show

Join veteran journalist Celeste Headlee every Tuesday for smart debate on issues that matter.


Slate is taking the spirit of healthy debate to a new podcast debuting Tuesday.

Hear Me Out, a show that’s far from your typical talking points-fueled shouting match, launches today and will deliver sharp perspectives and thoughtful discussions on some of the biggest issues of our time.

In an era when many people have forgotten how to talk to each other, Celeste Headlee, a veteran journalist and the author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, has devoted years to reinvigorating the art of civil conversation and debate in American life. It’s a mission she’s now bringing to listeners on Hear Me Out.

“The constant arguing on cable news gives me a headache. And for years I’ve been wondering: Why isn’t there a show that invites smart, reasonable people to explain their controversial opinions and keeps you engaged because it’s so informative, not because it’s trying to stir up outrage? So, we decided to make it,” said Headlee. “Hear Me Out is unlike anything out there because it’s a show where listening to people with conflicting viewpoints is actually enjoyable. The world needs a space where reasonable people can refute without roughhousing, and contest without combat.”



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