‘Black-on-black crime.’ White women with braids. KC activist wants us to talk about race
The event, which Sheryl Ferguson wants all of Kansas City to attend, won't take place until later this month.
But she already has some strict rules in place because she doesn't want anyone there to be accused of being a "Karen," the unkind term for a white woman caught acting on social media, usually to a black person.
Ferguson is organizing a public forum for people to talk about race — "anything that people are too scared to talk about," the flyer reads.
No question will be off-limits, no question too frightening or inappropriate to ask, Ferguson said.
The Kansas City activist, an organizer of It's Time 4 Justice, is designing a safe space to speak about issues many people are uncomfortable with.
In this case, safe space means that no participants will be photographed or shown in the live stream without their consent.
Safe space means people can ask questions anonymously, or at the microphones if they wish.
Safe space means you won't be judged by what you say.
"I'm very aware of the abandonment culture," Ferguson said. “I know Karen Syndrome very well. And I don't want this event to make people feel like it's going to be one of those things again.
"While the program is going on we will not have any question you ask to fear you have said something too racist."
A flyer for a July 23 event in Kansas City encourages an open discussion about race.
Ferguson is inspired by Emmanuel Acho, creator and writer of the video series and bestseller, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. In the videos, Acho has "awkward conversations" about race and racism with celebrities and some non-celebrities.
Last year, he sat down with officials from the Petaluma, California, Police Department to discuss police defunding and police accountability in high-profile deaths of black people killed by cops. This video has almost 3 million views on YouTube.
Ferguson, who has been a critic of the Kansas City Police Department and its relationship with the city's black community, thought a lot about this video after seeing it.
Then she also overheard a conversation on a local radio talk show about whether white parents should have the same conversation that black parents should have with their children about how to interact with the police.
Inspired by both and the national unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, she decided it was time to invite Kansas Citians to talk about race "to take the mask off." to make them authentic and true. ”
A diverse group of speakers
The forum will be held on July 23 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St., Kansas City and is co-sponsored by the social justice group More2.
Ferguson brings together speakers from diverse communities in Kansas City—Black, Asian, Hispanic.
"It's mostly people who can share stories about their experiences of racism in their lives," she said. "There is no one who does not have a story behind it."
She anticipates that the "misrepresentation of black-on-black crime" will be a hot topic, and "we already have a mindset on how to respond to that," she said.
She also anticipates cultural appropriation issues, "especially if it's a situation where white women are getting pigtails, and that's usually something that's only expected in black culture," she said.
She's also willing to have this conversation.
"The truth is, I don't think of it as cultural appropriation at all," she said. “They choose to enhance their hair just like we do. . . It is not a monolith that only one person or one race can have.
"Honestly, we really are all one race and that's human."
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