LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Dozens of people came with an open mind to a meet-and-greet event titled "Come Meet a Black Person" Thursday night, as the title raised eyebrows, brought praise, and sparked debate as news about the mixer went viral.
About 50 people of different colors showed up at the Cornerstone work cooperative in the city of Lawrenceville.
Cheryle Moses, founder of Urban Mediamakers and Black Gwinnett Magazine, tells FOX 5 the event was designed to encourage strangers to build friendships with people of different races.
"[The attendees] have never met anybody... what this shows, is everybody is human," Moses said,as dozens mixed and mingled and the event brought people together with food, drinks, music and casual discussions about different cultures and race relations in America.
Urban Mediamakers posted about the event on their Facebook page, and the post had since gained national attention due to the title.
"I thought it was a good idea-- [the title] does have a slight hint of humor in it," said Patrick Taylor, a Lawrenceville resident who came with his wife, Catherine. "I mix with all kinds of folks all the time-- maybe meet a few new friends," he said.
"I think it's great. It's fun to meet people regardless. But I think we need to get along a little better," said Catherine Taylor.
Days before the event, when FOX 5 showed people in the Gwinnett County area the invite, many people expressed initial shock at the title of the invite; some deemed it positive, while others viewed it negatively.
"We don't need things like that-- right now, [people] need to be as harmonious as possible," said one concerned resident Tuesday, who worried the tone of the title sounded offensive towards African Americans.
One person tells FOX 5 Thursday night, they arrived to the event with skepticism due to the title. "I thought outrage-- I didn't think that was a thing that was going to be okay," said D.J. Brown, who was one of many people initially shocked or offended by the title.
He later tells FOX 5, he thoroughly enjoyed the event and meeting new people.
"Shows you can just have a good Thursday afternoon with your neighbors," Brown said.
Moses was inspired to create the event due to published research by the Public Religion Research Institute that alleges that three-quarters of white people do not have any friends of different races or ethnicities; the research study also states that 66 percent of African American people do not have white friends.
The invite posted online describes the networking event as a way to address the "divisive and racist atmosphere of this country, we want to do something to positively challenge the negativity... With your help -- woke white and black people -- we are inviting white people who do not have non-white friends to attend this event, and put aside any pre-conceived notions about different cultures. We want everyone to just come with an open mind to this networking event of diverse, creative individuals."
Proceeds go to benefit the Young Urban Mediamakers (YUMs) program for youth ages 12-19.
This is the 16th anniversary of Urban Mediamakers.
A link to the invite can be seen here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/come-meet-a-black-person-networking-event-tickets-39599857239