Alexis Bradley and Chanté Stutznegger aren’t just sisters, they are sistas. The Black biracial women grew up in Utah in a predominantly white community, encountering racism and all sorts of questions about their skin color almost their entire lives. As such, the two sisters are used to talking about their life experiences as minorities in America.
The sisters genuinely want to help build bridges of understanding. Any chance they get to foster better connection, they’re all for it. That’s why they created Let’s Talk Sis, a platform to share their experiences, educate, and increase understanding about race.
Recently, they’ve shared that conversation more widely, hosting in-person workshops and live virtual discussions, sharing topics on their Instagram page, and doing in-person speaking engagements. Already, thousands are embracing the Let’s Talk, Sis movement.
Initially, they didn’t set out to be influencers, but when someone asked them to do a Facebook Live that went viral, they needed a social media handle to direct people to for more information.
Since they are sisters and love to chat, the name Let’s Talk, Sis was an easy choice. What they didn’t expect was to quickly gain more than 19k Instagram followers in a short period of time. But as racism and diversity are hot topics across the country, people have been looking to learn more. The sisters’ positive approach, plus their willingness to talk openly and honestly, have been a breath of fresh air for those who are willing to listen.
“With the sisterly back-and-forth conversation, I think people feel comfortable,” Bradley says. “Everyone wants a sister that they can talk about the hard things and just go deep with.”
Even though race and diversity can be hard for some people to talk about, the sisters’ approach allows for more genuine connection. They try to meet people where they are and just talk. So far, their approach has really resonated with people of all ages and all walks of life.
“There was an older lady who was in her seventies and said, ‘I’ve never heard anyone explain some of these things in my whole life. You’ve opened my heart in a different way.’”
Connecting people is the goal. The sisters, who grew up with a white mom and a black dad, know what it means to be raised with multiple cultures. They can relate to both sides and understand where both sides are coming from. With that unique perspective, they reach their hands out to everyone in order to foster better understanding and connection.
“Like our mom would always say when we were younger, ‘You guys are going to have an opportunity because you’re seeing into two different worlds in a different way,. And you will have an opportunity to build bridges,'” Bradley recalls.
Sharing What’s Real
Now as adults, the sisters are helping their children navigate the world as minorities. Bradley has four children with her husband, who is black and from the south, and Stutznegger has two children with her husband, who is white and from the Midwest.
“That decision of who we married has shifted everything for us,” Stutznegger explains. “The things that [my sister] has to teach her children to keep them safe, I rarely think about. And when I think about them, it’s on behalf of her children.”
Stutznegger’s children have blue eyes and light hair and don’t go through the same things their cousins do. So, as the sisters share their own childhood experiences, plus the varied experiences of their own children, followers who are listening realize what they may take for granted.
“For people to be able to see this different perspective . . . it really hits home for some people,” Stutznegger says. “[They think], ‘Wow, maybe I don’t have to think about things that other people have to think of.”
Everyone has bias, the sisters add. Thoughts and beliefs are a natural defense mechanism. While they can be helpful, they can be harmful too. In the end, these biases can keep people from connecting and for seeing each other for who we really are.
The sisters explain that one way to recognize bias or belief is when you are surprised about something—when a person or situation seems to be outside of the box or outside of what you believe should be.
Example: When the sisters were in college, many were shocked when they learned that they weren’t there on an athletic scholarship. People assumed that they couldn’t go to college based on academics alone. That shock or surprise demonstrates bias. And recognizing it is key.
Bradley says we need to ask ourselves, “Where did this come from? Is it something that you saw on TV? Is it a bias that your parents taught you? Is it from a bad experience you’ve had?”
While asking those questions, it’s important not to attach shame or guilt around it. Because bias is a natural, human thing. But becoming aware of it helps us to work through it and build bridges. And having crucial conversations is how we take huge steps forward.
How to Talk About Diversity
The sisters believe that many people make the subject of diversity too difficult. Too taboo. Too uncomfortable. And it doesn’t need to be that way.
The biggest tip they give is to make it a daily part of conversation, especially with children. Talking about with why people have different skin colors is a natural place for parents to start. Stutznegger explains: “That’s something that kids are interested in. And a lot of times they’ll ask questions and parents will be like, ‘We don’t talk about that.’ And then they associate it with negative things. But we can make it really natural and talk about where we come from. If our ancestors lived closer to the equator, they’re going to have darker skin because it was a protector from the sun and that darkness is caused by something called melanin.”
That explanation can then lead to a discussion on ancestors and how people originate from different places, and that connects with cultures. That approach helps children learn more about other people and come away with a better understanding of people who look different from them.
The biggest takeaway, they add, is that kids absorb the perspective of the adults around them. And when kids bring questions to us, we need to be open to discussing it.
“Sometimes silence is the loudest teacher,” says Stutznegger. “And if we’re not saying anything to our kids, they’re going to make their own assumptions on what different things mean. As parents, we’re teaching everything—that shoe’s on the wrong foot; your shirt’s on backwards; that doesn’t match; don’t eat that before you eat dinner. We have a critique for everything.”
She continues, “As they start noticing differences, which they will at a certain age, if it’s something that parents just don’t talk about, they’re going to assign thoughts and feelings and beliefs based on the fact that parents don’t talk about it. So it’s something that we just have to make natural and comfortable.”
When it comes to adults talking about race, unfortunately things get tense pretty quickly, and even political. That’s why the sisters suggest taking a nonjudgmental approach.
“What I found is that when I start a conversation by saying, ‘This is something I am trying to learn,’ or ‘I’m trying to look into and understand better,’ I’m not putting judgment on you because your opinions are different. I’m just telling you something that I’m really interested in and that I’m trying to look into and understand different perspectives,” Bradley suggests.
That kind of focus can hopefully create greater awareness and understanding and, in turn, lead to greater compassion and connection.
The sisters are continuing to bring their message far and wide, virtually and in person, to as many as are willing to listen. Recently, they’ve been busy helping businesses learn about diversity. And creating courses to reach a bigger audience.
This fall, they will be offering their Let’s Talk, Sis workshop in Orem, Utah, where others will join them to discuss race, diversity, and human connection. They will also be presenters at the Uplift Self-Care Virtual Symposium (use code LETSTALKSIS for $30 off registration).
No doubt these two will make a difference with Let’s Talk, Sis, building bridges all along the way.
To join the conversation, follow Let’s Talk Sis on Instagram at @letstalk_sis.
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