Show Notes

A DEI Conversation With More Curiosity And Less Contention

In this episode, guest host Julian Adorney invites Abby Benedetto of Core-Shifts.com for the 2nd of his Difficult Conversation Series as a way to model respectful and humble discussions on topics of disagreement. The value proposition of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is explored, along with the benefits and concerns of affinity spaces. The concept of race and identity is discussed, as well as the goal of achieving equality. The decline in race relations is examined, and the interpretation of the term 'race relations' is questioned. This conversation explores various aspects of race relations, complicity in racism, and the importance of racial awareness. It also delves into the problematic nature of certain works on race, the impact of language and intent, and the need for curiosity and open-mindedness in conversations. The chapters cover topics such as Trump's appeal to minorities, the need for change in addressing racism, the complexity of assuming best intentions, and the value of engaging in thoughtful conversations.


  • Having conversations on contentious topics with people who disagree is necessary and challenging.
  • Affinity spaces can provide a safe place for learning and understanding different lived experiences.
  • The goal of DEI is to create a more inclusive and aware society.
  • Race matters, but the aim is to reduce the negative impact of systemic racism.
  • The decline in race relations may be influenced by political polarization and increased visibility of hate. Trump surprisingly garnered support from minority voters, highlighting the complexity of race relations.
  • Complicity in racism occurs when individuals turn a blind eye to racist comments or actions.
  • The work of Robin DiAngelo and others in the DEI field can be problematic and should be critically examined.
  • Racial awareness is a crucial first step in addressing racism and building connections across differences.
  • Intent and impact should both be considered in language and interactions, acknowledging the potential harm caused.
  • Disrupting racist statements and behaviors is essential for creating change.
  • Assuming best intentions while also acknowledging impact can lead to more productive conversations.
  • DEI conversations require nuance, curiosity, and open-mindedness.
  • Engaging in thoughtful conversations with those who hold different perspectives can lead to greater understanding and connection.


00:00Introduction and Purpose of the Podcast

01:49Importance of Having Conversations on Contentious Topics

03:10Difficult Conversation Series Introduction

06:25Value Proposition of DEI

09:41Benefits of Affinity Spaces

13:30Concerns about Affinity Spaces

24:15Race Relations and the Goal of Equality

27:02Decline in Race Relations

29:18Interpreting the Term 'Race Relations'

31:37Race Relations and Trump's Appeal to Minorities

35:43Complicity in Racism and the Need for Change

38:30The Problematic Nature of Robin DiAngelo's Work

39:29Racial Awareness as a First Step

41:24Intent vs Impact in Language and Interactions

43:20The Importance of Disrupting Racist Statements

45:19The Complexity of Assuming Best Intentions

48:13The Power of Acknowledging Impact

52:34The Nuance and Complexity of DEI Conversations

59:04The Value of Engaging in Thoughtful Conversations

01:01:51Where to Find Abby Online


Who is Abby Benedetto?

Abby Benedetto is an educational consultant and founder of Core Shifts. Abby has taken on designing and changing systems for the last two decades from a wide variety of roles and perspectives - honing her skills around deep listening, collaborative innovation, and equity-centered learning design, and driven by the purpose of working to ensure that ALL young people (and adults) have access to the type of deeper learning they deserve so that they feel seen and valued, and develop the skills that they need to go out into the world and thrive...  

Abby has had the opportunity to partner with schools & districts to provide coaching, design work, high quality adult learning, and systems transformation nationally and around the globe. She is able to draw upon her lived experience of the decade she spent as a classroom teacher and leader, seven years of working shoulder to shoulder with educators in this country and abroad, as well as a unique ability to help folks make connections between what they know and their aspirational vision for where they want to go.
More recently, Abby has been working to apply her expertise as an educator and facilitator of systems change to an ever-deepening understanding of her own racial identity as a white woman... and to supporting other white folks who are interested in doing the same. This strand of work feels like the newest version of her life's purpose.  And Abby is committed to her personal learning so that she can continue to walk alongside others on their journeys as well.

Guest host, Julian Adorney:

Julian Adorney is an author and speaker focused on preserving and rebuilding the West against the threats of illiberalism and affective polarization. He's written for Quillette, Queer Majority, National Review, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) and a few other sites; and is on the Braver Angels media team. He's the founder of Heal the West, a substack movement.

Connect with Julian on (X): @julian_Liberty

What have you done today to make your life a better life? What have you done today to make the world a better place? The world is a better place if we are better people. That begins with each of us as individuals. Be kind to one another. Be grateful for everything you’ve got. Make each and every day the day that you want it to be!

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