The deadly ambush last month of Dallas police officers has rightly thrust race relations to the forefront of important issues that have to be solved to move this city forward.
For years, Dallas has been deeply segregated, with residents living, socializing and worshiping with people who look like them. It has not made us better.
But there are pockets of hope, organizations and institutions that are not just talking about bringing people together. They’ve made integration part of who they are.
How much better can our community be if we learn about each other’s differences, interact with each other and come together to make living here better for everyone?
Clay Allard, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Presbyterian Church on Hampton Road, deserves praise for his congregation’s efforts to find out. He’s the white pastor of a church in the heart of a black neighborhood. His 250-member congregation is about 50 percent African-American, 40 percent white and 10 percent Hispanic.
“You are my brother in Christ. Your pain becomes my pain. Your fear becomes my fear. I must do something when I see injustice happening to you. When that happens this entire country changes,” he preaches.
It takes empathy and a commitment to make progress on resolving differences. Allard pushes people to deliberately venture outside their own groups to understand others.
We agree. And we’ve urged people to make the effort to listen to their neighbors’ stories about race and to tell their own. Many community groups and businesses are fostering those conversations.
That includes companies like AT&T, long considered a leader in workforce diversity. Cynt Marshall, who leads the company’s diversity efforts, says AT&T is intentional about employing people of different backgrounds and prodding employees to understand different cultures.
She puts it this way: “Having a workforce that looks like the community we serve is essential to our business success. Every voice matters.”
We can get behind that.
And schools can also be key. The talented students at DISD’s Booker T. Washington High School For The Arts come from all walks of life. Last year, 49 percent were white, 25 percent Hispanic and 21 percent African-American. When you consider that the district’s overall population is 71 percent Hispanic, 22 percent black and 5 percent white, the school is a rare pocket of integration.
Source: Dallas Morning News