YouTube Series: "Decoded' with Franchesca Ramsey

We live in a time of great conflict. Relations in our country and world are increasingly strained, and as students we experience the effects right on campus. At UMass, we've received a few more emails than we'd like from Chancellor Subbaswamy about the recent xenophobic, racist printouts and graffiti on campus targeting various groups within the community.

It's difficult to not be frustrated with this ignorance, and the fact that it keeps happening makes it feel as though peace is unattainable. But as students and the next generation to be world leaders, we have to take these turbulent times and turn them into teaching moments. It's not easy to have patience with those who speak offensively, but we need to turn our anger into opportunities to educate them, otherwise we won't solve the issues that lie before us.

Communication is the place to start. Of course, the solution is not that simple, and I'm in no way suggesting that communication will be the cure-all (if it was that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.) Still, it's something to think about. Why? Because if done effectively, communication has the power to change the way people think and perceive things.

That's why the YouTube series Decoded hosted by Franchesca Ramsey is an important piece of media to watch; it covers topics ranging from how to be an ally to understanding cultural appropriation. Ramsey is an example of creating teaching moments, because while she covers controversial issues, her tone remains objective. Rather than speaking from anger, she teaches viewers the root of why certain things are considered offensive to others. She uses her platform effectively, and that's something, as millennials, we all need to think about.

It's not just about what you are communicating, but how you are communicating. Ramsey nails this: her lesson is easy to comprehend, plus she uses humor to lighten the mood. For both these reasons, she appeals to a broader audience.

On the other hand, it's important to remember that if you show someone one of Ramsey's videos, chances are, you won't magically change their mind. Communicating is give and take: it's a two-way street, meaning that the person you're trying to have this teaching moment with has to be open to learning.

You can't force your ideas and opinions on another, even if you believe they're right. Forcefulness only causes tension and more resistance. Discussing sensitive issues of society can be difficult, but take a page from Ramsey's book and think about how to communicate your ideas in a neutral way so that you're not attacking the other person or forcing your ideas on them.

If we want to effect positive change, we must first change the way we communicate about the issues. It's important to remember that we can all learn from each other. It won’t be easy, but if we can be effective communicators like Franchesca Ramsey, there is hope in resolving these issues.


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