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Local book club starting conversations around race and equality

Published: Jun. 27, 2020 at 11:36 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Conversations around race and equality have filled our social media pages these past few weeks. They can be tough to navigate on your own, which is why a group of women started a Facebook group.

Meredith Perryman, Allison Sullivan, Lisa Mackenzie, Latonya Still, Melissa Salmon, and Barbara Moore started developing friendships two years ago.

“Where we began meeting and sitting knee to knee to say tell me your experiences, tell me what you’ve gone through,” said Perryman.

A couple of weeks ago they created a Facebook page and started a book club, called Arise. The group has grown to include more than 500 people.

“Just treating the person in front of you with respect isn’t enough anymore. We need to do undo. We need to dismantle. We need to educate ourselves and form connections,” said Sullivan.

They say from sharing experiences they’ve learned a lot from each other.

“The way we view things are different. So, for me I have more of a fear of the police, and it’s not because I’m doing things that are not law abiding it’s because experiences that I’ve had in the past with the police pulling me over, telling me I’m suspicious, with police swooping in on me” said Mackenzie.

“One thing I’ve learned also is how much I have to learn. I’m really shocked and embarrassed that these stories that I hear that they graciously share with me because they’re not responsible for educating me but they will open their hearts and share their experiences. One thing I realized is how could I have been so blind to that? How could I have lived 45 years and this is going on right in front of me yet I just had no idea,” said Perryman.

The group has been listening to other people’s stories and experiences, which is key to having these types of conversations.

“I think for the biggest thing for people of color is we think people don’t hear us. They don’t listen, and they don’t just acknowledge that we’re dealing with a lot of things just from the past that affect us today,” said Mackenzie.

“I think just the time that our nation is in is calling for us to do that very thing. To seek out other voices, other people, friendships with other people. That’s what’s going to change people’s hearts is when you’re sitting with them and talking with them and getting to know them through friendship,” said Still.

“I hear their stories, then it really breaks my heart in different ways because it’s not just a face and a name, this is my sister, this is my friend, and that’s when it’s really different. That’s when we can make change,” said Salmon.

The book club is currently reading “Woke Church” by Eric Mason. If you’re interested, you can reach out to them on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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