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Local pastor hosts series on difficult conversations about race

Posted at 3:31 PM, Jun 17, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— A local religious leader is taking action to make room for more honest conversations about race.

In a series of Facebook Live discussions, Pastor Keenan Tyler is talking to faith and city leaders about the path forward, and he believes it starts with uncomfortable conversations.

“If it is revealed, it can be healed. If it’s confessed, it can be forgiven. So, when we reveal these things, now we can deal with the issues, we can deal with the problems,” said Tyler.

Last week, he started the “Colored Conversation” series. Tyler says it is a safe space for difficult conversations about race.

“We don’t talk a lot about race, especially when it comes to church and religion, you know,” he says. "Some people, as soon as you go there, they’re like, 'Aw, let’s not talk about it,'" but we have to talk about. We have to keep these conversations going so we can learn.”

In addition to conversations with other religious leaders, Tyler is having tough conversations with local police and city leaders.

Last week, he spoke with Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin Wright about police reform, defunding the police and police use of excessive force.

Wednesday, Tyler spoke with Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, and has more discussions planned for the coming days.

Related: Foot washing ceremony at Virginia Beach church promotes healing, racial reconciliation

Tyler says listening with empathy is the key for others to take on these challenging conversations in their everyday life.

“Put yourself in someone else's shoes, you know; listen to understand before trying to be understood.”

He hopes his talks encourage people to not fear being uncomfortable in order to make progress.

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