In light of the protest and calls for change from various communities I reached out to Chuck Cogliandro leader with the Kumandi Drum Circle and Coming To The Table. When I first met Chuck, I was a little confused, but thought he was bi-racial. He'd been recommended as an African drum teacher, after meeting him a few more times I realized he was not bi-racial, he was a white guy.
I asked him how he came to be an African American ally and what that meant to him. He speaks about growing up in a white community and attending a diverse high school and thinking he had Black friends. He moved to Atlanta and joined the WRFG Community Drum circle. He shares that he was often the only white person in the room. He says that some people in the room let him know that he didn't belong. He kept returning and became an apprentice to Atlanta African Drum Master Brother Yusef Crowder, and he learned how to carve African drums and embraced the culture wholeheartedly.
Chuck and his wife wanted to do more and on a summer road trip carved out time to attend a conference in support of a national organization Coming To The Table. This organization purposely brings together the descendants of slaveholders with the descendants of the enslaved for uncomfortable conversations.
Chuck went on to start a chapter of the organization to Atlanta. He speaks about those meetings and the need for white people to hold uncomfortable conversations about race. He mentions that they are currently working with the podcast Seeing White.
I ask Chuck to share the challenge he has issued to white friends and colleagues who ask, "what can we do?"
For more information on Coming To The Table Atlanta
For more information on the national organization Coming To The Table
For more information about Chuck Cogliandro, contact him here.