You sometimes wonder if it’s possible to have a civil and intelligent conversation about race. And the topic is ever so present in an election year, but much more nuanced when it comes to referring to a particular presidential candidate. It’s a challenge to come out of these discussions without some historical, social and/or political bruises. This weekend during the social screening of the interview with James Baldwin, I asked Ethelbert Miller in the chat, “Do you think we’ll overcome racism in your lifetime?” Ethelbert responded/typed.

No I don’t think it’s something you overcome. I think we all struggle with being good people on a daily basis. We try to be tolerant and understanding. This is what it means to be human.

Phillip Rodriguez, who’s produced numerous documentaries for PBS over the years is taking a shot at a civil and intelligent conversation about race as part of public media’s 2012 election specials. Phillip is from Los Angeles and a visiting fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. We’re punchy friends on certain topics, but I will confidently and without hesitation say he’s a talented filmmaker.

RACE 2012: A Conversation About Race and Politics airs Tuesday, October 16 at 8 PM on PBS stations (check local listings). The conversations are introduced by persons who’ve had these chats before civil and otherwise. But these professionals in academia, communications, and politics allow the documentary to lay some groundwork for a conversation rather than detonate the argument that seems to result in some pretty steady payola for certain on-screen pundits. But either way, the pain remains. Here are a few clips. More are posted on the Race 2012 YouTube Channel.