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Abstract

Concerns about the inadequacy of using dialogue to address the material realities of race and racism motivate this essay. Hence, I reflect on the current state of conversations on race, diversity, and inclusion from the standpoint of cultural and racial “others.” To orient my reflections, I first unpack assumptions about what might constitute “productive” public deliberation on race. I argue that productive public engagement exercises on race (a) move participants into praxis, (b) require participants to consider cultural identity differences, and (c) demand an understanding of how social forces such as racism and whiteness hinder and/or enable public engagement processes. I then reconsider public engagement from a cultural lens and rethink intercultural communication as publicly deliberating highly charged topics such as race. Finally, I caution against relying on cookie-cutter formulas to address complex issues such as race and recommend utilizing the strategy of counter-storytelling in public engagement exercises on race.