A poet and a police chief on the language of race

"One of the hardest things to talk about in America is race," FBI Director James Comey said last month. "We have to get past that and talk ... and listen."

Comey was speaking in Chicago at the Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Today, MPR News' Kerri Miller was joined by poet Claudia Rankine and former New Orleans police chief Ronal Serpas to talk about race — and how Americans can have a productive conversation on the subject.

Rankine, whose book-length poem "Citizen" explores how racism is present in American culture, credited social media with providing an outlet for discussions on race.

"With social media, we suddenly have a public forum in which things can be discussed. I think that's what's allowed us to begin to talk across borders, in terms of different states and different neighborhoods, about having one conversation regarding race," Rankine said.

To listen to the full discussion on how the language of race fits with the everyday reality of it, use the audio player above.

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