Dinners Dispel Stereotypes

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“When you invite people as guests in your home, you are accepting them and you form a bond,” says Jo Janke. “You build trust and see that their fears and uncertainties are just like yours. Stereotypes are blown away.”

Janke and several other members of Peace Christian Reformed Church in South Holland, Ill., took part in that city’s Diversity Dinner program that has residents sign up to host or be a guest at an interracial dinner in someone’s home.

Kathryn Worthen has served as chairperson for the dinners in the past. “I know that it’s because of our ignorance of each other that we have fear of each other,” she said. “When I hosted a dinner I became more aware of the importance of interaction in homes. It’s an eye opener for both races.”

The population of South Holland, originally predominantly Dutch, is now a little more than 50 percent African American.

Matthew James and his wife have participated in the dinners for four years. “We love what God is doing in our village,” he said. “The world needs to see that blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics can come together for the good of their families and their community.”

About the Author

Ruth Moblard DeYoung, a former Banner news correspondent and teacher, writes children's books. She is a member of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Ill.