The Book Club on Race a tool to help diverse people better understand each other. If you’re not sure why that’s important please see the news on any channel and in any newspaper any day of the week (pay special attention to any comment thread on any topic).
The hosts. There is only one rule we have for you to follow: the group must be diverse. Beyond that you make every other decision – you pick the book (or movie or radio program), you decide when the group meets, you decide who joins the group. After you sign-up to host a group, you can use this website and some variation of this invitation to invite guests to sign-up. Here’s our booklist, but do your own thing and be sure to tell us how it turned out.
Our role. We help people find each other who are interested in diving into deeper conversations and forming stronger relationships with people who don’t look (or think) like you do. You might say we’re a civic diversity “singles” site. With no enrollment fees.
It’s kind of the opposite of forming feuding angry tribes, which seems to be the civic trend these day.
The guests. For those interested in attending a group it’s simple. You just “request an invite.” When a new group forms who is looking for members, we’ll contact you and see if there’s a match. Our ask to you is that if you join a group you really make an effort – notwithstanding the craziness of daily life – to be there.
Here are some rules of the road that might help you out**:
Put your cell phones down. Really you can do it.
Everyone gets respect. This is about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.
This is conversation, not a series of monologues. Don’t dominate. Hear each other.
Assume good intentions by others, because unless you are Carnac the Magnificent you can’t mind read. If you look for the worst in each other, you’ll find it (because we are all human).
Give people some room to goof (we humans tend to be expert in this). Mistakes don’t make you a racist.
Talking about race doesn’t make you a racist. Talking about race using the wrong words doesn’t make you a racist either (again, the human thing). We get it, there are some words choices that are painful inside certain groups. But the whole thing about this is we’re talking to people who aren’t inside your group. Give each other word choice latitude. Ask follow-up questions to clarify and share your discomfort when necessary.
Embrace diversity of opinion. It makes life interesting.
**Borrowing very heavily from Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times, author of Race-Baiter.