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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

'Open Book' discussion hopes to write a new chapter in conversations about race

Iowa 'books' and 'readers' gathered to share stories of race and its impact on their lives.

DES MOINES, Iowa — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Iowans flipped the script on talking about race. 

On a Monday morning Zoom call, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines and CultureALL organized what they called an "open book" discussion.

"Books", or people of color, shared their stories of race and its impact on their lives, while "readers" listened to their stories.

One of the books who shared their story was 41-year-old Nayshea Rice of Des Moines. 

In 2006, her only brother, a college athlete on an academic scholarship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was gunned down at a back-to-school party. 

Ten years later, she lost her husband to cancer. Both men died on the same day, July 23. She shared her story of overcoming grief while raising her daughter. 

"I often say I'm the oldest 41-year-old you'll ever meet," Rice said during the meet-up. "I say that because I experienced a lot in 41 years of life."

The goal was to discover what they have in common despite their differences and gain a new perspective.

"The way we perceive the world based on our personal identities and interactions within it create who we are," one of the readers in the group said. "Conversations like this where we get to share all of that are really beautiful and I really appreciate it."

CultureAll is an Iowa-based non-profit with the goal of bringing together Iowans of all ages, race and backgrounds to learn about world cultures and connect with those around them.