Special to The Dallas Examiner
The roots of racism run deep, cultivated through hundreds of years of history. For those in a position of privilege, systemic racism is often difficult to recognize or understand. How can concerned citizens address those issues so that healing can begin? One avenue according to experts is conversation: respectful, meaningful discussion shared by people who might not otherwise connect.
That’s the concept of Dallas Dinner Table, an independent non-profit organization focused on improving race relations in the DFW Metroplex, “One Dinner at a Time.” The next Dallas Dinner Table event will take place virtually on Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Participants will gather online in separate breakout rooms for guided conversations.
“Our mission is more important than ever this year,” Wright said. “Racial divisions and political disagreements have widened the chasm separating people of differing races and belief systems, against the backdrop of a pandemic that has amplified the challenges for people in marginalized communities. There’s no better time to come together and create dialogues that will help us to look past race and ethnicity and see each other’s unique humanity.”
Founded in 1999, Dallas Dinner Table has organized annual dinners on the third Monday of each January to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dallas-area residents break bread together in small groups, while hearing and sharing diverse perspectives about the impact of race on their daily lives.
While the pandemic means the event can’t take place in its usual format, organizers said it is more important than ever.
“This year, in the aftermath of a bitterly contested election, police violence against Black people and disproportionate effects of the pandemic on marginalized communities, it’s more important than ever to find constructive ways to bridge the divide,” said Beverley Wright, chair of the Dallas Dinner Table Board of Directors.
In previous years, dinners were held in private homes, churches, businesses or restaurants and hosted by citizens who graciously provided an evening meal to participants from diverse backgrounds. Facilitators guided dialogue at each table towards cross-cultural communication with a focus on personal action and growth, and the advantages of cross-racial relationships. This year, in the interest of safety, the event will take place via Zoom.
“Every year that I participate in the program, I learn something about race relations, and I learn something about my own biases,” one participant explained.
Anther participants commented on the atmosphere of respectful and caring dialogue they’ve encountered during the programs.
“I like the ease in which we can all speak freely, without being judged,” the participant observed.
Registration is free, but sponsorship donations are encouraged. To register, visit https://dallasdinnertable.com/register-for-our-events. To learn more about sponsorships, visit LINK. Participants will need to have Zoom on their device or download it at zoom.us in order to participate.