‘Community Conversations' Hope to Heal Dallas Race Relations

For actress and singer Denise Lee, words are important.

So important, she started an initiative called “community conversations” after the Dallas Police shootings, as a way to heal what many saw as tense and broken race relations in their neighborhoods.

The idea is simple: gather strangers, get them talking. The rules are simple, too.

“You can’t sit with who you came with,” Lee said, laughing.

People are split into small groups to discuss whatever touchy topic is on their mind. Lee said the discussions are a judgement-free zone.

At the first gathering Lee organized, more than 200 people showed up. Each time after, the group has grown, she said.

“We can’t get to know each other or break down walls until we talk to each other,” Lee said. “Social media has made us so distant.”

English teacher Craig McKinney knows words are important, too.

He’s gone to several community conversations and said he's felt richer after hearing others’ stories and experiences.

But talking is just the start.

“And listening. It’s not just talking. It really is being able to stop, close your mouth, shut off your Facebook, turn off your Twitter, and just listen to someone else,” McKinney said.

The community conversations take place once per month. The next one is at 6 p.m. Monday at the Dallas Children’s Theater. Everyone is welcome and no topic is taboo. 

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