A networking group for professionals in Lawrenceville, Georgia, is giving white people a chance to meet a black person.
Urban Mediamakers, a group for media professionals, is hosting an event called “Come Meet a Black Person,” meant to bridge the racial divide and challenge negative attitudes, according to the event description.
“Many white people want to begin to cultivate relationships with black people but don’t know how to and this is an opportunity for them to feel comfortable,” the group’s president, Cheryle Moses, told The Washington Post.
“The only way to change the divisiveness that’s going on is to be one-on-one with people. Policy won’t really change things, but forming relationships will.”
Moses said the idea for the event, scheduled for Thursday, came when she read a 2013 Public Religion Research Institute study that showed 75 percent of white people don’t have non-white friends. The study also shows that a majority of white people have a friend group that’s about 91-percent white. About 65 percent of black people don’t have white friends, and many have a friend circle that’s about 83-percent black.
Moses told The Associated Press she hopes to create an open dialogue between black people and white people about race that might then spread to participants’ friends.
“My question is why do a lot of white folks get offended when anyone brings up race or racism?” Moses told AP. “Let’s walk through it, talk about it. If we are friends, you can sit down with friends and agree to disagree.”
Many expressed excitement about “Come Meet A Black Person” on the event Facebook page. Others, however, were skeptical as it gained national attention. Some people on Twitter lamented that this was a bad idea reminiscent of the film “Get Out.”
This is the auction scene from Get Out basically. https://t.co/3dlg0VunHq— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) November 15, 2017
Issa trap. They gon set you up like Rose did to Chris. https://t.co/nWLPxnxrgW— ♚ (@RoyalxMelanin) November 14, 2017
Come Meet a Black Person smh like we a new attraction at the zoo or something pic.twitter.com/3wSyPX31Un— D.T. (@Darlene26811165) November 15, 2017
Hey white people I will volunteer my services if you want to meet a black person, but you have to pay me and be ready to take a lot of verbal abuse. It actually won't be a pleasant experience at all.https://t.co/Xav4ui4wuv— Black Aziz Anansi (@Freeyourmindkid) November 14, 2017
“Why can you say it and I can’t?!” https://t.co/tDuHiX75O9— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (@MeWeFree) November 14, 2017
Moses told Fox 5 she didn’t mean for the event title to be provocative. “To me, it’s ‘come meet a black person,’” she said. ”[W]hy would it be offensive to meet a black person?”
Thursday’s event will include food, drinks, games and giveaways. Tickets for “Come Meet A Black Person” are $15, and proceeds will benefit the Urban Mediamakers program.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.