We're throwing a social with @BlkGwinnett! Non-black people are invited to put aside preconceived notions about the black community & bring an open mind to "Come Meet A Black Person" Networking Event, Thursday, Nov. 16, 5-7p in Lawrenceville, GA https://t.co/lzCSD2MJ6t pic.twitter.com/sN2CYaTTUM— Urban Mediamakers (@UMFF) November 13, 2017
Ask most Americans whether race relations in the country are strong, and they’re likely to give you a sour look. Polls demonstrate a majority feel that race relations are actually doing badly, while most Americans, regardless of race, think they get discriminated against because of who they are.
But a group in Lawrenceville, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, is hoping to change that. Urban Mediamakers is hosting a networking event this Thursday with a unique angle: They’re asking white people to come out to “meet a black person.”
Although the event is technically the celebration of the 16th anniversary of Urban Mediamakers, it has a greater purpose in mind.
“Because with the divisive and racist atmosphere of this country, we want to do something to positively challenge the negativity,” the description of the event reads.
It goes onto explain:
"The idea of 'Come Meet A Black Person' Networking Event came about when we recently found out that 75% of white people in the United States do not have non-white friends. According to the New York Magazine, white people continue to deploy the phrase 'I have a ton of black friends!' to justify casual racism, but it’s not actually true for three quarters of white Americans. But, the Urban Mediamakers, and many others, want to change that statistic!"
Cheryle Moses, who founded Urban Mediamakers, said she hopes the event elicits positive effects in the community.
“It's a great opportunity to start relationships," Moses said. “And if you have a relationship with somebody, you are inclined to treat them like yourself. If you don't have that relationship, then you'll only treat them based upon what you may have seen or read somewhere.”
Urban Mediamakers describes itself as a “consortium of independent mediamakers” involved in “animation, digital, film, games, print, radio, web, writing” and other forms of media.
To be sure, not everyone is thrilled about the idea.
“We are not entertainment. We are not props. And this is certainly not the kind of sideshow I would want to be a part of,” Breanna Edwards at The Root explained.
But she also acknowledged that the event could do some good, and that, “there are far better, more patient people than I.”
Hopefully it will do more than entertain. The goal is a noble one, and the “Come Meet A Black Person” event could allow people of many different races to interact with one another, forging friendships and business contacts with individuals they may not have in their current network of friends or associates. That possibility, in and of itself, is enough to warrant supporting this event.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst