Dozens come together to talk race relations at RVA roundtable

Published: Jul. 17, 2016 at 11:59 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Side by side, in small groups of five or six, dozens of people answered hard questions about racism and police brutality across the U.S. at the Black History Museum in Richmond Sunday.

Latoya Currie, a single mom from Petersburg, drove in to make sure her voice was heard.

"I'm afraid for my son," she said. "To me, it's more difficult for young black males in America than it is for anybody else."

She said she wasn't surprised to hear that six police officers had been shot in Baton Rouge Sunday, three of which died from their injuries. So many things still unknown about the crime Sunday, it comes at a time when tensions are high across the country, following events in that city, Dallas and Minnesota.

"People are retaliating," Currie said, "because of the abuse and misuse and the treatment that they felt for centuries."

And that feeling of fear that's becoming all too familiar is exactly why organizer Jonathan Zur from Virginia Center for Inclusive communities wanted to start a conversation.

"The news of today is yet another reminder that we need to be doing these things proactively," Zur said.

He proposed the idea for the event last week, and it sold out in three hours.

Which he thinks signals a need to step out of one's comfort zone and answer the hard questions about race.

"We can't wait for a crisis to bring our community together," Zur said. "We need to have the relationships, we need to have the trust, we need to have the systems and structures in place that don't allow some of the divisions that we're seeing happen right here in RVA."

Which Currie thinks is a step in the right direction, but still isn't enough.

"This is a great start," she said. "I'm not quite sure if it's a cure, but it's definitely a healing process."

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