To celebrate its 16th anniversary, a Gwinnett professional organization is hosting a unique event.
On Thursday, guests are invited to Urban Mediamakers' (UMM) "Come Meet a Black Person" networking event at Cornerstone in Lawrenceville.
Cheryle Moses, a digital content creator and the founder and producer of UMM -- a consortium of content creators in a variety of media -- said the event was inspired by a 2014 study from Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute, which found that 75 percent of whites do not have black friends or friends of any race other than white, for that matter.
According to PRRI, if a white person has 100 friends, 91 are white, one each is black, Latino, Asian, mixed race or other and three are of unknown race. Blacks on the other hand would have 83 black friends, eight white friends, two Latino friends, no Asian friends, three mixed race friends, one friend classified as other and four friends of unknown race.
“It blew me away because as a black person you kind of know most white people don’t have black friend, but to actually see a number, that quantifies it,” said Moses, 58. “I know everything about white people, but a lot of white people don’t know much about our culture or our community. Not real stuff anyway,” she said.
So far, reaction to the event has been supportive, she said, with most people understanding the attempt to bring people together in a lighthearted manner.
“I am looking forward to it because I believe it will help break the ice for a lot of folks who want to be friends with people who are non-white, but don’t know how to go about it,” she said.
Moses said the lack of opportunity and lack of desire to reach across racial lines for friendships goes in all directions. “There are a lot of woke white folks and black folks that don’t know how to reach out to each other,” she said.
Plans for the evening include a human scavenger hunt in which participants will search for elements of different cultures. There will also be a chili bar and other comfort foods to get everyone in a laid back mood.
“My goal is really to start conversations. Here in Gwinnett, everybody operates separately. Everything seems to be really segregated. If we do something like this that is lighthearted and fun, then it won’t be so serious,” Moses said.
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Moses noted that the most recent elections have shown that people are more politically engaged, but we need to talk more, she said.
She has reached out to elected officials asking them to attend as well, she said. “I think if more people would do these types of events we can move this conversation of race forward,” she said.
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“If we can become friends, it will be easier,” Moses said. “Come Meet a Black Person is my effort to start a conversation so we can love on each other.”