Host a dinner party, invite 20 strangers, then the faux pas, discuss race

This photo does not depict the participants. It’s a stock photo to ensure their privacy.

On Monday night, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, Dallas Dinner Table and Dallas Faces Race joined forces to spread awareness about race and change through dinner conversations. In an effort to organically engage the community, these innovative and social-minded organizations held pop-up dinners at 50 homes throughout the Metroplex, as one of several smaller events leading up to the Dallas Faces Race Conference that will be held in November.  As a registered partner for the conference, Model Behaviors hosted a dinner and opened up our home to 20 registrants, chosen by Dallas Dinner Table, to encourage diversified discussions for the evening.  Here’s a quick synopsis of what transpired.

Right from the get-go, the evening kicked off with a thought-provoking icebreaker.  Each person was given a sheet of paper with a partial statement on racism, like:  Religion and racism, The definition of racism is, Dallas police and racism are, and Prejudice among the same racial group is.  Then, each participant went around and repeated the phrase for everyone else to hear and think about.  Each guest responded in 10 words or less.  Once we all responded, we sat down for dinner and conversation.  At each table (we had two tables), a facilitator conducted the program for the evening with a deck of cards with more discussion points.  Each person was given five minutes to speak freely about their card’s topic, without input or interruption from the other guests.  The purpose was to go beyond our normal glossed-over answers and confront difficult topics with raw, unabridged, honest answers.  Through this process, we were able to suspend both judgment and the need to formulate a response.  What occurred was an open discussion that shed light on what is still happening today, like: “My sister is married to an African American and their child is dealing with some biracial negativity;” “I have Caucasian clients who make negative comments about my minority staff.  I’m not sure how to handle this;” My [African American] parents told me that I would always have to be better than everyone else, to have a chance in life.”

This is but a small glimpse into an extraordinary evening charged by the contributions of twenty people—once strangers—now, united in our efforts to further the dream of a great man on the day set aside to honor him.  In order to evolve and grow as a community, we need to knock down these barriers, and really talk to each other and hear our stories. No matter who we are or where we came from, we’ve all experienced or witnessed racism.  Let’s continue to grow as a community and become our greatest potential. To learn more about Dallas Faces Race and to participate in this innovative conference, click here.

Let the journey continue…


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