MANSFIELD — Racism in America can sometimes feel like an insurmountable problem, with few solutions. 

In the months since the death of George Floyd at the hands of White police officers on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, the country has launched arguably the most significant modern movement against racism in the United States. Yet, the problem persists. 

In order to solve the problem of racism, we, as a society, have to acknowledge that racism exists. Acknowledgement and acceptance of that fact are necessary before engaging in meaningful dialogue. It’s about taking the first step and having the challenging conversations. 

A group of people in a barbershop in Mansfield, Ohio took those first steps over and over again with “Shop Talk.” Created by Damien Beauford, owner of 419 Barbershop, the goal of Shop Talk has always been open, honest discussion between the participants seated in the barber chairs.

Shop Talk has been framed using solutions journalism principles to give space for understanding and nuance.

It was the start of a longer conversation – one with the potential to move even one person closer to understanding the limitations of their own experiences.

Shop Talk’s final conversation featured Micah Derry, Ray Hoskins, Lamont A.D. Lindsay, Alomar Davenport and Beth Castle. The conversation was moderated by engagement and solutions editor Brittany Schock.

The group discussed what it sees as the biggest problems regarding race relations in the United States and what could be done to eliminate systemic racism.

“It’s not as obvious as it once was about tearing down Jim Crow laws. Instead we have policies that are racist in their impact. They disproportionately impact minority communities. That’s where we’ve got to be looking,” Derry said.

What happens next is up yet to be determined, but history shows it will take persistence. Derry pointed to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 381 days.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but my job right now is each day to keep on having conversations like these,” he said.

419 Barbershop has partnered with Richland Source, Mankind Murals Inc. and DRM Productions to bring “Shop Talk” to life.

Richland Source editors moderated the discussions using solutions journalism principles to complicate the narratives and give space for understanding and nuance.

Subscribe and listen to the “Shop Talk 419” Podcast.

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