Last night we hosted our second Deep Dive Dinner Conversation in Durban.
While Saturday’s was a group of all white people chatting about Identity as a white person in South Africa, last night was a completely more diverse group of twelve including indian, coloured, black and white. Two very different dinners, but each with a specific focus and both providing some amazing conversation.
But the most outstanding thing for me at both dinners was the moment someone exclaimed, “I never knew that about you.”
And this is not rocket science, people.
This is a table of food and a roomful of people willing to engage for a longer period of time than normal.
The first question we asked on Saturday night was “What are some of the conversion moments that happened along the way in terms of helping you get more conscious about the need for deeper conversations and engagements about race.”
We followed that up with, “What is one emotion you are feeling right now that relates to you as a white person in South Africa?”
Last night we broke into pairs and asked people to share, “One time you felt positive about South Africa and one time you felt negative about South Africa.”
Then each pair joined another pair and each person was asked to share one of the two stories they had heard. A great exercise in terms of both listening skills and also hearing someone else tell their version of your story.
When we joined as a big group again, we asked the follow up question, “What role did you play in one of the stories you shared?” which helped us head towards deeper conversation.
THE ASLAN EFFECT
One of the only bits of introduction i tend to give at the dinners is that we are trying to create a safe place… but we are not looking to have a comfortable or not awkward or even quiet space. We want people to get raw and rough and real and honest and share the emotions they are carrying. And at the end of the evening we want people to leave having heard each other – there is not end point agenda place of where we want everyone to be – the idea is not at all to get everyone thinking the same about something. But hopefully thinking more deeply about some things.
The character Aslan from the C.S.Lewis Narnia series is described as good, but not tame. That is how we would like to see Deep Dives happen.
MOVING TO ACTION
i believe there is a lot of valuable work we can do in conversation – both online and off. But it cannot end there. This has to move us to some form of action. So our last part of the evening last night was going around and asking people to share one thing that had grabbed them from the evening, as well as one action point. What is the next thing you are going to do? And everyone’s was different. And the group committed to meeting again and going even deeper into some of the things, and some of the areas that are specific to them as a group of friends and church colleagues.
When we create space for these kinds of conversations [not only race but money and where we choose to live and parenting and marriage and singleness and recycling and education and whatever else we could use some deeper insight on from others] and intentionally gather, especially around food, we will see deeper relationships and trust start to form, which is where i believe the real change is going to happen in South Africa.
You don’t have to call it a Deep Dive, you don’t have to run it the way we do, but i would strongly encourage you to find ways that you can gather with different people in your life to wrestle with some of the important and crucial aspects of life and the space you live in.
And then please, come back here and let us know how it goes…