by BTL staff
Last October Detroit made a significant historical leap with an actual sit-down, face-to-face dialogue between black men and women who are hetero-attractional, homo-attractional and bi-attractional, and according to organzers it happened without a screaming debate. The event, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin II,” will continue the dialogue once more on Oct. 30 and 31.
The event name “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” comes from a famous Michael Jackson song. Using the song title was a way to memorialize Jackson and his messages of social justice. Jackson’s sudden death occurred as last year’s event was in the planning stages.
What organizers want to “start” again this year, is “an ongoing cross-attractional dialogue to help dismantle the divisions between ‘straight and gay’ in the black community.”
Organizers said communities of color often “tip-toe” around gay and lesbian identity or refrain from having open, intellectual conversations. The event’s group dialogue format aims to create a safe space of mutual respect. Organizers hope that bringing individuals of all attractional orientations together will build new friendships, alliances and organizational partnerships across metro Detroit – replacing myths with facts in the process.
CUNY professor, Dr. Juan Battle, invited Dr. Amorie Robinson, a licensed psychologist and resident of Detroit, to create and implement the project.
Other planning committee members include Crystallee Crain, a doctoral candidate at the California Institute of Integral Studies working on race, gender and empowerment, and Dr. J. Frederick Bland, a Detroiter who recently completed his doctoral dissertation at Western Michigan University focusing on attractional minority youth. All three are passionate about the value of intergroup cross-cultural dialogues.
Starting this conversation in metro Detroit is just the beginning of what organizers hope will become an ongoing series that includes cross-racial, cross-generational, cross-gender and other categories. Those who attended last year want to see the program continue.
The planning committee expressed appreciation to private donors and gratitude to Rev. Horace Sheffield of Detroit Association of Black Organizations and National Action Network for providing the venue.
This year’s event will be held on Oct. 30 – 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Detroit Cares Academy, 8100 W. Davison. Participants must be 18 or older and are asked to attend both days to maintain the integrity of the group process. There is no charge to attend and refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is preferred. Free parking is available, and the event is handicap accessible.
Participants are encouraged to invite family members, colleagues and friends who ordinarily avoid talking face-to-face with a gay or biattractional person. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected] or interested parties may call 313-570-1543 and ask for Dr. Robinson.