Do Now: Modelling tough conversations in Charlotte.

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We all know how deeply the legacy and presence of racism affects our communities, and…most of us are scared to death to talk about it. That’s why I’m so impressed with this video series, which places a local Black artist and activist, Dae-Lee Arrington, in conversation with Charlotte leaders for a one-on-one conversation about how racism affects them — both of them — and the community. Here’s a taste, from an Axios Charlotte article, as he talks with a nonprofit executive:

The question lingers: For all his ability to raise money to do good, is someone who makes in the neighborhood of $600,000 in base salary the most likely to solve Charlotte’s economic mobility gaps?

They’re uncomfortable questions with no easy answers, and most folks would shy away from them. But Arrington addresses them directly.

“Do you feel as a white man you are well-equipped to understand the work that’s needed in these communities, amongst these people, in which the majority of your funding supports?”

“Very provocative question: I might have thought at one time that I was well-equipped, but I think I’ve had some recent experiences that suggest I’m not as well-equipped as I should be. And that’s just an honest answer. I know all the nonprofits that are serving the populations that we’re talking about, but I don’t know how much I really know those populations.”

Think about having that conversation in front of a camera. Many of us might be inclined to crawl under a table at that, but Arrington demonstrates that these kinds of tough questions can be asked honestly. This isn’t a reporter’s gotcha, it’s two people having a real conversation.

As I’ve said before, I am convinced that equity and anti-racism are not just moral goods, they’re also imperative to being able to solve the challenges that face us. Diversity of thought and perspective makes for better solutions, but being able to leverage the advantages of diversity means that we have to learn to collaborate across the barriers that have divided us. Building Bridges looks like a good way to start.

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