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Overcoming Hate Through Dialogue: Confronting Prejudice, Racism, and Bigotry with Conversation―and Coffee (Women in Politics, Social Activism, Discrimination, Minority Studies)

Overcoming Hate Through Dialogue: Confronting Prejudice, Racism, and Bigotry with Conversation―and Coffee (Women in Politics, Social Activism, Discrimination, Minority Studies)

by Özlem Cekic, ,

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How a TED Talk Speaker Learned to Successfully Confront Bigotry, Prejudice, and Racism

“This brilliant and well-researched book ought to be required reading for anyone interested in conflict resolution; it gives nuance to an otherwise stale-mated debate.” ―Journalisten

Winner 2020 Indie Book Award for Social Change
2021 International Book Awards finalist in Social Change
Highlighted in Publisher
´s Weekly list of New Social Justice Books

TED talk speaker Özlem Cekic offers a blueprint for confronting racism, prejudice and hatred. She calls her conflict resolution process “Dialogue Coffee”.

Familiarity and dialogue is the antidote to intolerance and prejudice. Özlems method of having coffee with people who send her hate mail has been recognized around the world and inspires listening, understanding and an end to blind hatred.

When Özlem Cekic became the first Muslim MP in the Danish Parliament, her email inbox started flooding with hate mail and threats, and her first reaction was to delete and ignore each abusive message. But eventually, she decided to take a risk. She started replying to messages and inviting the senders to meet and engage in dialogue over coffee. What she discovered was that she could create change in the people who sent her hate mail, understand where their anger came from, and build friendships through finding common ground.

It is possible to have a conversation with anyone if you:

  • Listen and focus on what you have in common instead of your differences
  • Praise your counterpart for having the courage to have this conversation
  • Recognize the other person´s emotions and feelings even if you don´t agree with them
  • Distance yourself from the other person´s attitude, but never the human and their humanity


Readers of books on activism, racism and social change like How to Be an AntiracistThe Racial Healing Handbook, or Rising Out of Hatred will be inspired and encouraged by Özlem Cekic’s Overcoming Hate Through Dialogue.

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  • Özlem Cekic

    Özlem was born in Turkey in 1976. She lived in Finland for two years while her parents worked as cleaners at the Turkish Embassy in Helsinki. The family moved to Denmark in the beginning of the 1980s. Özlem was the first in her family to go to high school after which she completed a nursing education. She specialized as a psychiatric nurse and from 2000 to 2007 she worked with mentally ill children and youths, traumatized refugees and drug addicts. In 2003, she was elected to the board of the Danish Nurses Organisation as the first woman with an ethnic minority background. Özlem was elected to the Danish parliament and served from 2007 to 2015 as one of the first female politicians with an ethnic minority background. Since 2015, Özlem has been giving talks and providing advice in Denmark, and internationally, on how to build bridges between ethnic minorities, companies, organisations and local government. She devised the dialogue coffee concept, which involves her regularly holding dialogue coffee meetings, where she contacts people who have sent her hate mail and arranges to meet them for a coffee – usually at their home.

    In 2018, she became only the second Dane in history to give a TED Talk, which was about her experiences with dialogue coffee. At present, the talk has been viewed by over a million people. Özlem is also the founder and chairwoman of the Bridge Builders’ Association (Foreningen Brobyggerne), which aims to prevent hate and violence. The Association teaches children about building bridges between different population groups, builds bridges between Jewish, Muslim and Christian schools, and seeks out religious extremists to invite them to open dialogue arrangements, which are hosted by the Association.

    You can watch the TED Talk here: