How can we have conversations within our communities, even as we hold different viewpoints?

On May 5, 2022, the Citizens League hosted this online discussion with Minister JaNaé Bates, communications director for Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH, and Howard Lavine, Associate Dean of the Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Arleen C. Carlson Professor of Political Science and Psychology.

Watch the conversation below, moderated by Citizens League Policy Director Blanca Martinez Gaviña.

We are all familiar with the stomach drop, the racing heartbeat, or the voice shaking whenever we talk about issues that are important to us – with those who disagree. The Covid pandemic created further gaps in communication as we isolated and often let social media take the lead in connecting our communities. As a result, many point to the break-down of civil conversations across political, social, economic and racial groups. Leaving us wondering, how do I talk to my neighbor again?

This Mind Opener explored healthy conversations in an era of hyper-polarization, with a focus on defining boundaries and building healthy habits and tools to co-exist in community with neighbors, friends, or family, even as we hold different views.

Speaker Bios

Minister JaNaé Bates is the communications director for Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH – multi-racial, multi-faith, state-wide vehicles for people and communities of faith, Black owned barbershops and childcare centers. These organizations are dedicated to building a multiracial democracy by moving collectively and powerfully for racial and economic equity in the state of Minnesota. JaNaé specializes in integrating grassroots community organizing and narrative strategy. She has been instrumental in the implementation of the “Race Class Narrative” framework in both Minnesota and across the U.S. JaNaé is a womanist theologian and Fulbright scholar. She has over a decade of academic and professional experience in ministry, social justice, and communications.

Howard Lavine is Associate Dean of the Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Arleen C. Carlson Professor of Political Science and Psychology. His work centers on the psychological underpinnings of mass political behavior. He is the author of Open versus Closed: Personality, Identity and the Politics of Redistribution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), The Ambivalent Partisan: How Critical Loyalty Promotes Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2012), and the editor of The Feeling, Thinking Citizen (Routledge, 2017) and Political Psychology (Sage, 2010). He has published articles in The American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. He is the past editor of the journal Political Psychology and current editor of the journal Advances in Political Psychology. His current work focuses on human rights, populism, partisan asymmetries, and the intersection of race and political context on public opinion.

Citizens League Mind Openers, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, are deep dives into policy topics that affect Minnesota and its residents. The talks are an opportunity for people to learn and talk about a variety of different issues.