These folks, the Zen Activists/Undercover Spies of the anti-racist ally community, are rather infrequently triggered by expressions of racial skepticism. They usually have developed a keen understanding of where skeptics are coming from. Some Undercover Spies/Zen Activists have developed this understanding through a good deal of reading about how racism-skeptical thinking is a useful byproduct of a society that replicates racial hierarchies. Others have empathy for where skeptics are coming from because they have done a good deal of internal reflection and remember thinking like this themselves. Still others can stay calm and not reactive because they have spent previous time sorting out how they could deeply love and generally respect people whose thoughts on race they find deeply troubling.

Because the Undercover Spies/Zen Activists stay centered and can connect with where skeptics are coming from, when they engage skeptics, they can often make strategic choices in guiding the conversation in ways that, over time, invite the skeptic to think differently without making them feel judged.

The primary thing these people should focus on is their effectiveness. The ambiguous nature of working with skeptics makes it hard to know if your engagements are doing anything, which also means its easy to overestimate one’s own impact. Since Zen Warriors/Undercover Spies represent the people who are at the pinnacle of effort, they should also spend some energy helping the vast majority of other allies who are not at the same place in their ability to engage skeptics empathetically and strategically.


  1. What are things that I don’t know about skeptic’s thinking that I should ask about when engaging?
  2. Could I improve the depth, breadth, and effectiveness of my storytelling when I engage skeptics? Are there experiences I can more effectively bring to bear from my past when I try to connect with skeptics?
  3. Can I improve the questions I ask that are trying to help get to the heart of the matter?

  4. Are there risks that I am not taking when engaging skeptics that might help me become more effective when engaging them?

  5. What are some lessons about staying centered and coming from a place of empathy that I can pass on to other allies?