Thursday night a group of local residents got together in the gymnasium of the YWCA Carlisle to discuss race.
For all the vitriol, animosity and at times finger pointing that can come with the topic, Thursday’s discussion was all about finding personal ways to rise above that and knock down racial divides.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in the muck,” said Sonya Browne, mission impact director for YWCA Carlisle.
Browne led the discussion, which began with a potluck dinner and was dubbed “Achieving the Dream through Action,” evoking the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous 1963 speech in Washington D.C.
“It is not about pointing fingers at any one person. It is not about pointing fingers at any one race,” Browne said. “…These are necessary conversations about doing work that needs to be done together.”
There is no monopoly to the divide, according to Jay Browne, and lack of openness or willingness to discuss racial issues has allowed the problem to grow.
“I’m sure there are just as many white people who have had bad experiences with black people as black people who have had with white people,” Jay Browne said. “(By not discussing it) it creates a culture where these (bad) feelings can fester.”
The conversation focused on what can be done to tear down the racial divides and what people are willing to do individually to facilitate change.
Some suggested creating an afterschool program to bring children of all races together. Others said there needs to be a communion of churches of all races.
Marcia Berry presented the idea of inviting small circles of people into one another’s homes, in an effort to better understand people outside normal social circles.
The first gathering of “Moving Circles” will be held at 7 p.m. at the YWCA Carlisle Women’s Resource Center, where attendees are asked to bring a poem, a prayer, a song, a concern or just be open to a discussion.
“I’m excited to see what we can build together,” Berry said.
However, the simplest suggestion was just to be nice to one another, to greet people on the street with a smile instead of avoidance.
“It doesn’t cost you anything to be friendly or kind and acknowledge there’s another human being in the room with you,” Browne said.