The Passionate Eye

'How many of you would trade places with a Black person in this society?'

A dinner party that asks white women to acknowledge their own racism

This dinner party asked white women to acknowledge their own racism

‘How many of you would trade places with a Black person in this society?’ | Deconstructing Karen

10 days ago
Duration 1:21
Regina Jackson, one of the founders of Race2Dinner, asks dinner guests a question; some find it difficult to answer.

The crystal is polished. The china is pristine. The candles are lit.

The scene is set for what makes any dinner party memorable: the promise of raw, insightful, provocative conversation. The guests are varied in terms of their age, life experiences, level of education and political leanings. But they all have one critical thing in common: they are all white women. 

They've gathered to experience radical honesty on racism — their role in upholding it, their conditioning to ignore it, and the essential part they can play in tearing down the systems that are killing Black and brown people in America every single day. 

It's a dinner party facilitated by Race2Dinner: hosted in a white woman's home, with eight white guests, lasting two hours. 

Regina Jackson and Saira Rao lead the conversation. Jackson was born in 1950 and remembers an America where "everything was in Black and white." Rao is the daughter of Indian immigrants and says she spent a large portion of her life aspiring to be white. In 2019, they founded Race2Dinner to help white women learn how they uphold white supremacy. 

"The only thing that's going to change this is if we change the cultural DNA," Rao says in the documentary Deconstructing Karen. 

"And the only way you can change the cultural DNA is through personal, human interactions. And we know that breaking bread with people is the best way to do that."

Deconstructing Karen features one Race2Dinner event in Denver. 

After explaining the one rule for the evening — "If you're going to cry, leave the table" — Rao asks the first question of the evening: 

"I want a show of hands of everyone at this table: who is racist?" 

Some guests raise their hands. Others do not. One woman says, "I want to cry." 

And so the radical honesty begins.

For some guests, there are epiphanies. For others, there is resistance. But for all the guests, something changes: they can never unknow the painful truths revealed over this dinner. 

Watch Deconstructing Karen on CBC and CBC Gem, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT).

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