Friday, March 27, 2015

Anastasia: Contrasting Starbucks and New Horizons Conversations On Race Relations

Love Does What Nothing Else Can

I still don’t fully get it, intellectually, how this is true; “love does what nothing else can.”

But my experience tells me it is so.

For example, far-fetched as the connection might seem at first, the contrasts Jack Slattery, my radio show co-host, made last night between the successful results presently gained by New Horizons’ “conversations on race relations” and the disappointing fallout from a similar endeavor by Starbucks, make the point.

The first undertaking, New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations, one might say, was conceived in love. This initiative has, so far, managed to carry a sense of that love into its programs, to date.  With an accompanying joy, hope – and – love seeming to expand from itself and beyond.

However, the latter, Starbucks’ initiative with its baristas serving up their daily fare with a message for customers to join Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign, has seemingly birthed an abundance of resentment, mockery and disparagement, if not out and out hostility.

But it too was conceived in love, I believe.

So what went awry in the Starbuck’s scenario that was set so right in the New Horizons version, both having to do with conversations on race relations?

Could the error be similar to bringing a newborn baby into a home of planned and stable parenting with a parallel birth into a home ill-prepared and ill-equipped to guide that child’s life into its fullest expression?

Perhaps there is this similarity. Still the answer is complex. And, Starbucks has given us a gift in their attempt from which we can learn many lessons if conversations on race relations are ultimately to do what they must; help this country heal from wounds embedded long ago in slavery.

As Jack drew me out on last night’s radio show, “To Talk Or Not To Talk: Considerations,” he made some astute observations of his own, recognizing the intricacies of what conversations on race relations entail. And, indeed what is at hand warrants serious and lengthy deliberation.

Love and how it is manifest is a central ingredient of my considerations on the contrasts between the success of New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations project and the downfall of the Starbucks initiative.

One hypothesis might be this –

Starbucks is not a venue that can carry forth the countless back stories, born of loss, pain and anger that are part and parcel of healing race relations in our country. These cannot be carried forth with a cup of brew in a busy coffee house.  A safe, loving environment must be established for this.

An environment with -- ample structure, guidance, time, experienced program coordination, such as my volunteers and myself provide, well-prepared and trained facilitaters and time commitments set aside expressly for the purpose of what is needed to affect a healing of the divisions that set people apart in this country – is some of what is needed – and -- more.

The essential ingredients that are trust, safety and the love that is necessary to bring forth healing need a much richer setting where such as this can grow and thrive.  

Listen to Jack and myself take up these contrasts, as we did live last night. Then let us know what you think about “talking or not talking” about race relations; where, when and how.

And, be sure to look for the love in the contrasts.

Love Does What Nothing Else Can!

New Horizons Coffee House Conversations On
Race Relations, March 21
Audience in rapt attention

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