My husband and I grew up in the Idaho community. We were often called "Jap". We saw signs regularly: "NO JAPS ALLOWED."
One day at the Sand Hollow, Idaho, one-room Community Church my dad and another white farmer had a disagreement. The argument continued as the congregation poured themselves out the front door onto the sand and dirt where all the cars were parked in that sun drenched desert environment. Although no blows were actually exchanged because my dad was carrying my baby sister, a ring of parishioners formed a circle around them as they argued with fists clenched. The almost fist fight was heated with words referring to "JAPs".
We changed churches!
On the other hand, my father was wise enough to invite these racist individuals to coffee and we had this farmer's daughters as baby-sitters.
Because of these experiences, I am not afraid to go to Coeur d'Alene as I have practice in finding the good in others no matter their rhetoric or outside manners. They are human and have grown up with limited defensive practice and they themselves are afraid.
There are various ways to practice the skill of being comfortable to talk and express ourselves with others. My first recommendation is always to invite someone to coffee one-on-one and ask them to talk about their own heritage.
Of course, we teach our children and practice avoiding dangerous situations like negative group dynamics.
Celeste Headlee knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In her TED talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. She also suggests not avoiding politics and religion at family dinners and other gatherings. "Go out, talk to people, listen to people," she says. "And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed."