By Patrick Harrison, Dallas Dinner Board Member, LD Class of 2006
Have you ever crossed over to the other side of the street when seeing a young black man walking in your direction? When you see a middle age or older white male with a camouflage cap do you make assumptions about his views on race? Have you ever cringed when a person of color entered the elevator and you were the only passenger? When’s the last time you saw a Hispanic person and wondered if they were in the country legally? These reactions are not as rare as you would think in America circa 2013; they are innate reactions reinforced by decades of mistrust of people who are “different” than you.
The reactions, however, weaken the fabric of our society by maintaining walls of division between races and ultimately not utilizing the talents of everyone to make this great city even better. WE can change this…but WE have to commit today to improving race relations in Dallas-Fort Worth. In order to change our perceptions about others we must first get to know them. The key is to understand that such an undertaking is a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, with the busy lives we lead to meet and interact with people not already in our social circle. There is also the awkwardness of meeting someone from a different culture and getting to know them without possibly offending them because you are unaware of their cultural norms. Here’s a solution….Dallas Dinner Table 2014. I want you to block January 20, 2014 from 6:00pm until 9:30pm to attend a Dallas Dinner Table event somewhere in the Metroplex.
The Leadership Dallas Alumni Board met in 1999 and decided to implement a series of dinners designed to:
- Educate participants on race relations in Dallas-Fort Worth
- Encourage citizens to develop relationships with different races and ethnic groups
- Empower participants to speak frankly and candidly about their perceptions of other races
The Dallas Dinner Table initiative involves a series of small dinner/conversation events held in homes, churches, restaurants and corporate conference rooms throughout Dallas-Fort Worth on the evening of January 20, 2014. The events provide an opportunity for candid, respectful conversations that foster a better understanding of the diverse cultures represented in Dallas-Fort Worth. WE can only improve race relations if YOU participate.
Go to www.dallasdinnertable.com and register today. There are three options for the dinner; host, participant or facilitator. There are definitions on the registration site that can help you guide your decision on which option is best for you. It does not matter how you participate, it only matters that you participate.
It is imperative to take this first step if we are to improve race relations in the places that we live, work and play. By participating, you become an active part of the solution.
Leadership Dallas Alumni is a sponsor for the 2014 Dallas Dinner Table event.