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Courageous Conversations: Social Media & Race

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- We've been sharing some courageous conversations with you this past week on race relations here in Springfield in the aftermath of Ferguson. 

Many have been on social media outlets like Facebook, twitter and Instagram but with weighty topics like Ferguson and race relations, is social media the best way to carry on a courageous conversation? 

We wanted you to share some Springfield voices that have concerns about social media and whether it hurts or helps.

“Ferguson was handled in such a way with the media that it went everywhere...with the internet, Facebook,” said Springfield NAACP President Cheryl Clay.

“I think what happens with social media in my estimation has not contributed to the civility necessary for the kinds of in-depth discussion that have to happen in this hundreds of years long discussion we've had in America. You don't deal with it in Tweets, you don't deal with it in slogans. You deal with it eyeball to eyeball and social media allows anonymity, social media allows cynicism, snarkiness, to rule the day, it becomes an art form and subsequently. It raises consciousness but it doesn't contribute to what is really necessary,” said Byron Klaus of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

“Things spin out of control very quickly with inaccurate, incomplete information or just flat out bogus information people trying to fan the flames of something like that,” said Police Chief Paul Williams.

“You don't have all the facts, nobody has all the facts yet, let's not say anything until we get all the facts and then if we identify issues that are problematic, let's be willing to address every one of those issues,” said Wes Pratt of the Springfield NAACP Criminal Justice Committee.

“We’re not getting at the issues as much as we should we're kinda face with how do you get a hold of this greased pig and really wrestle with it when you really want to but if there's no big issue you don't want to start a fight in order to have an issue,” said Dorsey Levell of the Council of Churches.

“It's easier to cast, throw stones as opposed to engage in those conversations and do your research and it doesn't take a whole lot because it's right there at your finger tips,” said Pratt

Chief Paul Williams said, “But please do not keep parroting that 20 years ago thing, that 50 year ago thing because it doesn't do anybody any good.  That's not having open, honest dialogue that's regurgitating, dredging up stuff we can't have an effect on its good form a historical perspective to know where we came from but let's work on today and the future and how we want to be and not keep talking about how it was in the past.”

“We can't continue to fight the same battles we've been fighting all along recognize what contributes to the incidents that are highly polarized now, that are highly publicized, because right now, breaking news happens and in thirty seconds to a minute it's all over nation, it's all over the world so the challenge becomes. We can publicize it rapidly, but do we take enough time so that we can engage one another and grow and learn...that's the challenge, but to me, that's the opportunity,” says Pratt.

“I would argue because Jesus came in the flesh it means that Christians need to deal with things face to face...we can't allow snarkiness on social media, we can't allow slogans, we can't allow loudness and yelling.  We've got to look each other in the eye and be accountable for what we say, for asking hard questions, for living with the frustration of that and keeping friendships strong...that's the only way this is going to happen,” said Klaus.

“I'm a man. I have children. I have a family. I have dreams and aspirations and you do too so those are the common humanity based values and attributes that we all have in common and why can't we exist on those levels as opposed to being polarized  based on what we see, what we hear, what's being fed to us, whether it's through the media or whatever, we have got to be engaging one another on a level where we recognize our common humanity, we all have something in common, we believe, we breathe and we die,” said Pratt.

We will continue these "Courageous Conversations" regarding race relations on KOLR 10 News this week. Monday we focus on the role of the church, Tuesday we look at business and on Wednesday we look at the role education plays in race relations. 

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