I talked about racism with 10 strangers over dinner
A few weeks ago I had dinner with 10 strangers of different races and ethnicities. The topic at the table was racism.
We were brought together by L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson’s embRACE L.A. project, a series of intimate dinners in homes across the city held with the goal of fostering a healthy dialogue on race relations.
As a black woman, I was prompted by curiosity to RSVP. If my experience is any indication, the story of race relations in Los Angeles isn’t one of steady progress. There are still issues with police brutality, a major disparity in wealth, and the overwhelming problem of black people being gentrified out of their communities. I live in West Hollywood and I frequent Santa Monica for work, two predominantly white areas. Frankly, Angelenos are used to seeing black people in only certain parts of town. Once we step outside those spaces, dirty looks and aggression emerge.
That said, I always want to learn more about the complexities of race in one of the world’s most diverse cities. I was hoping this dinner could help teach me.
We began the evening with a moderator asking us to speak about how racism has affected each of us and what we thought should be done about it. The first to speak was a racially ambiguous woman who appeared to be in her 50s. She talked about how most people can’t tell she’s “60% black” at first glance. The topic of racial passing came to mind quickly, but to my surprise, she didn’t seem to realize the advantage this gave her.