In August 2017, a few days after the violent events in Charlottesville, Va., I sat down for coffee with my friend Moses. Moses is a black man who grew up in southern Dallas and has faced his share of racism. I told Moses I was sorry for what he was going through. I told him I wanted to understand. I told him I was joining a book club on race.
Moses said, “Ryan, that’s great. I’m glad you’re doing that. But I have to tell you; that’s a very white, suburban, college-educated way to approach this problem. You’re going to read a book. What you really need to do is come to the barbershop with me.”
What Moses was telling me is that my approach to the issue of race relations needed to be more than academic. I needed to live it. I needed to bring my whole being to the project: body and soul, not just mind.
Half an hour before Grammy award-winning gospel singer Marvin Winans took the stage at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas Thursday night, he offered a similar perspective.
“Most whites, no matter how empathetic they are, they have never lived it,” Winans said, sitting in front of a piano in his green room. “They don’t know what it is to go down the street and be pulled over simply because you’re black. They don’t know what it is to walk into a grocery store and have people follow you down the aisle to see if you’re stealing anything.”
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