Shifting Culture Through Conversation: DD’s family story

D. DeAngelis, known as “DD,” was inspired to have a Living Room Conversation with their family as a step towards addressing racial injustice.

They didn’t expect to fundamentally shift the culture of their family in the process.

DD, who uses the pronouns they/them/theirs, has taken to heart the urging of Black leaders who are encouraging white folks to discuss race with their families and close friends.

While DD is grateful that “my close-knit family appreciates me for who I am,” they find themselves growing frustrated and often shutting down when having conversations across differences.

According to DD, their family usually avoids difficult conversations, as discussing challenging topics often devolves into debate.

Then, “when a Black leader I admire posted Living Room Conversation’s facilitated dialogue on community-police relations, I was so excited. Approaching this important and timely topic through a structured sharing of knowledge and experience seemed to be an opportunity to normalize these conversations within my family,” DD shares.

“My family unanimously agreed to participate in the conversation, showing more enthusiasm than I ever expected,” DD says. “They also all expressed looking forward to learning about each other’s perspectives.”

During the conversation, DD found that “it was really interesting to hear my family acknowledge that for the most part, police have been viewed as people who kept their neighborhoods safe, and not as a threat to their safety.”

But when one family member shared an experience with the police during a no-knock raid, they “could feel and see the visible shift in each family member.”  They wondered if that shift would lead to a new understanding that for some, especially in lower socio-economic levels, policing can feel harmful.

DD reflects that while parts of the conversation were confusing, challenging, and frustrating, they were struck by how incredibly honest, open, and attentive everyone was. The conversation brought the family closer, even revealing “depths within each of our family members we have not yet known,” they said.

DD believes this conversation laid “the groundwork for a new norm for our family,” where they’ll begin to talk about meaningful issues authentically and vulnerably.

“As we ended the session, my family honored the member that shared so personally, genuinely thanked me for gathering us together, and expressed the desire to have more conversations like this,” DD said.

Energized by the warm response from their family, DD scheduled a second Living Room Conversation on Status and Privilege.

DD was thrilled to see that “just as they had last time, my family showed up willing and ready to dive into this topic.”

The most meaningful outcome for DD is their family’s desire to continue their education on these complex topics.

These conversations, DD says, are changing “the way my family talks to one another. My oldest sister said that having these conversations prepares her to have more conversations like these with other people.”

“These shifts are exactly what I desired for myself and my family. Living Room Conversations provided the support I needed to do that.”


Shannon Mannon
Newsletter Editor