Dallas Dinner Table: Sharing Meals and Improving Race Relations

When my sister used to attend a Unitarian church in the 80s they used to have what was called “Dinner For 8” where church members would get together at a different person’s house every week for potluck.

Now a new way of dining has been introduced in Dallas, TX and it’s called Dallas Dinner Table.

It’s not your typical casual get-together, far from it.

This dinner actually has responsibilities for host, facilitators, and participants with a goal of improving race relations one dinner at a time. Dallas Dinner Table is a non-profit, independent organization focusing on improving race relations in the DFW Metroplex.

Before the event the host has to register by a cut-off date on dallasdinnertable.com, in the most recent dinner by Jan. 9th. This year’s dinner is scheduled for Jan. 16th at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time at various homes and restaurants throughout the Metroplex.

They also have to provide food and location for a total of 8-12. They may include one personal friend or family member. The organization is actively seeking attendees to act as facilitators.

Serving food as one course or family style is recommended to maximize participation. Last year on Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday more than 1,100 North Texans gathered together in about 120 locations to break bread and barriers during the event.

Among those participating, 97 percent rated their experience as very excellent.

Guests aren’t allowed to bring un-registered people to dinner and are to listen respectfully to others attending without trying to change their opinion. They are encouraged to have an open mind to participate in dinner conversation. Before the dinner they have to confirm their dinner assignment with the host before the event.

Participants, hosts, and facilitators complete feedback forms before leaving the dinner.

Facilitators have to attend a mandatory orientation session chosen from three dates, familiarize themselves with materials and guidelines before the event, and discuss with the host plans for each person’s responsibilities.

The night of the event the facilitator has to present purpose and action steps for participants and host, enforce the “no interruptions” policy, and manage the time of the night ensuring dinner is done by 9:30 p.m.

One member said, “The thing that really stuck with me from last year’s dinner was it was interesting to hear about other people’s experiences and the openness and sharing of experiences and opinions.”

You can also start a Dinner Table in your area by going to the website listed above.

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