How to Talk to Your Partner About Racial Justice

This post was written by The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy founder, Maegan Megginson, MA, LMFT, LPC, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist

I want to be clear that I, my staff, and our therapy center stand with Black Lives Matter and the movement for social justice and equity in our society.

To my BIPOC readers: I am sorry that I have not done my work to dismantle white supremacy in my personal life and here at The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy. I am committed to doing my work. Our therapists are here to listen to your experiences and needs. We stand with you and will not rely on you to dismantle the system that you did not create.

To my white readers: I am not a social justice expert. I do not have this more figured out or know more than you do. I’ve been thinking about this email for weeks, asking myself what it is I want to say, and how I can provide something of substance that will inspire you to commit to your own anti-racism exploration. Since I don’t have any divine nuggets of wisdom, I’m going to share what my husband (Jonathan) and are I doing, with the hopes that it inspires you to take action in your own life and relationship.

Let’s talk about how you can integrate racial justice into your relationship in a way that makes our world better for BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) and strengthens the foundation of your relationship with your partner.

Step 1 – Start the conversation

If you and your partner have not started talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, and white supremacy, here are a few questions you can ask each other to get the conversation started:

  • Why haven’t we been talking about systemic racism and social justice? What does this say about our life and our relationship?
  • What do you know about Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, and white privilege?
  • How do you feel about the current social movement to prioritize racial justice?
  • How can we make our relationship a safe place to work on these vulnerable topics together?

Step 2 – Commit to learning together

We cannot change what we do not understand. Jonathan and I have committed to watching documentaries and reading books that are written by BIPOC on the topics of racism in America, becoming anti-racist, understanding white privilege, and dismantling white supremacy.

Can you and your partner commit to watching one documentary together and then discuss afterward? Here are a few we have watched and recommend:

After watching, we share what we learned, how the information made us feel, and what we want to do about it.

Next up — books! We are currently reading Me and White Supremacy, which I highly recommend. The book is structured with daily reflection exercises that help you apply what you’re learning intellectually to your own life. This is where the knowledge turns into action. We’ve also started a group with other therapists here at The Center so we can do the work with other white people we know and trust.

I am also learning a lot from this daily anti-racism e-mail newsletter.

Step 3 – Commit to taking action together

Knowledge is great, but it is meaningless if it isn’t translated into action that makes life better for BIPOC. I admit that I have not taken nearly enough action in my life or business, even though I’ve been learning about systemic racism and white privilege for many years. I am ashamed of this and will not longer be silent or complicit in racism by not taking personal action. I acknowledge that this is a growing edge for me. I am still learning about how and where I can take meaningful action.

You and your partner should talk about this together. Ask yourself and each other: Are we taking enough action? If you’re like me and Jonathan, this will be a hard, painful conversation. And that is okay. You can do hard things! Our BIPOC neighbors have been doing hard things their entire lives.

The easiest and fastest way to start taking action is to put your money where your mouth is and donate to causes you believe in. We are donating money to a combination of national and local organizations. Check out this list for organization suggestions and other ideas for learning more about anti-racism: Things You Can do to Support the Black Community and Promote Anti-Racist Efforts.

We are also joining our local chapter of SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) and are beginning to find ways to take direct action in our community.

This is just the beginning. We don’t have a roadmap yet. We don’t know exactly what we’re doing or where to go next. But we feel more connected, committed, and accountable because we’re doing it together.

We’re committing to prioritizing racial justice in our relationship, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.


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