June 5th, 2009

One of the things I love about my job is that I have the opportunity to talk with all kinds of folks about difficult issues, like race and class. In fact, I kind of take that for granted.

Recently I was reminded how lucky I really am.  I went to a dinner sponsored by the Birmingham Kitchen Table.  My table of eight shared a meal and discussed issues facing the Birmingham region.

We started off with general, surface level insights – water-cooler talk.  As we continued our meal, however, we began to dig deeper.  There were two women – one white, one black – who worked at the same office, and they described themselves as friends.  However, as we talked, we discovered that they didn’t socialize outside the office, and they definitely didn’t discuss difficult issues like race.

Well, we talked about race that night.  A lot.  And it was pretty remarkable to see our conversation unfold with heartbreaking honesty.

I walked away that night with a deeper understanding of how we still wrestle with our history.  I believe that the Birmingham Kitchen Table can change that dynamic by encouraging dialogue among diverse people.

But we have to participate in the conservation in order for it to fulfill that potential.  If you live in the Birmingham area, you can register to be part of the Birmingham Kitchen Table today.

If not, I encourage you to think about how you can facilitate meaningful public conversations about race and other important social issues in your local community.  Maybe you could start a kitchen table conversation of your own. .