Event offers white people the chance to ‘meet a black person’

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A Georgia networking event offers attendees an opportunity that sounds strange in modern times. “Come Meet a Black Person” is scheduled to go down in Lawrenceville, near Atlanta. Although it sounds like satire, it is an actual event aimed at bridging the “racial divide.”

Cheryle Moses, the founder of Urban MediaMakers, a group of independent black filmmakers and content creators, initiated the networking event after reading a 2013 study from the Public Religion Research Institute.

According to an announcement for the event, “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.”

The study said that about 75% of white respondents claimed to not have any nonwhite friends. The study said most whites have a group of friends that is about 91% white. Black Americans likewise socialized with other members of their race 83% of the time; 65% of black people said they didn’t have any white friends, the study found.

“In the black community, we know of white people who don’t have a lot of black friends,” Moses told CNN. “But still, seeing a statistic about it just opened our eyes.”

According to the event’s site, organizers say, “[w]hite 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 we, as well as many, many others, want to change that statistic.”

Organizers say they scheduled the meet-up “because, with the divisive and racist atmosphere of this country, we want to do something to positively challenge the negativity.”

Specifically encouraging white people who don’t have nonwhite friends to attend, Moses and the other organizers hope people connect personally at the event.

“It’s a great opportunity to start relationships,” she 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.”

Attendees will engage with others and learn about the black community while Moses and others from Urban MediaMakers greet “whites” and introduce people to each other.

Moses said she’d received positive feedback for the event, but did note that one woman told her the title was off-putting. After some explanation, Moses said the woman “totally got it.”

Moses said her group would like to continue to put on events like “Come Meet a Black Person” regularly if the event goes well.

In a Twitter announcement of the event, Urban Mediamakers writes, “We’re throwing a social with [BlackGwinnett Magazine]. 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.”

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