“Black Tea Project” sparks uncomfortable conversations for change

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Two State College residents are sparking uncomfortable conversations in hopes for change.

“This gives an opportunity for black people, and white people, to have an area where they can have opposing views, uncomfortable conversations,” said Tierra Williams, Host of the show “Black Tea.”

Tierra Williams and Pablo Lopez are the co-creators of a new community engagement show “Black Tea” ​which focuses on the racial disparities not only State College, but across the nation.

“There’s this Happy Valley mantra here, and it is not happy for everyone,” Williams said.

The State College residents hope to shed light on perspectives coming from different backgrounds to help people better understand each other.

The idea, Williams says, stemmed from the Black Lives Matter protests that happened in State College and across the nation this past summer.

“Having those protests, having people coming up to me randomly, asking me questions or wanting to talk to me, or making statements that I either responded to, corrected, hashed out, that let me know okay, there is not only a need to answer these questions, but people have a wanting to ask them, people actually want to know these things,” Williams added.

“I just saw her fiery passion leading the way, she was the one person that I remember with the megaphone, really engaging with the crowd and really speaking her truth,” Pablo Lopez, Creative Director of the Black Tea Show, said.

“She basically created something the community needed, and I just wanted to help.”

So far, they have conducted over 40 interviews for the show including borough council members, teachers, and religious leaders, all with the purpose of learning from each others opposing viewpoints on race, religion and more.

“It’s important to see people in a ‘higher stance’ versus just the everyday person and see how ironic it is that they agree on so many aspects of what affects them,” Williams said.

“I didn’t even know there were African American pastors here, one of them the longest standing one in the county,” Lopez added.

“Speaking to some of the community members was eye-opening, because they’ve dealt with stuff that I’ve dealt with as well, and I didn’t think anyone would share my story.”

They received a ton of positive feedback after releasing the first episode of the show, with over 1,200 views across all of their social platforms.

While they are happy with the response, they add that there is more work to be done on the issues here with race in State College.

“We know that racism is not going to stop within State College just because of ‘Black Tea,’ it’s not going to stop, it’s just a platform to bring it to the forefront, acknowledge it and maybe we could sit down and have those conversations to try and dismantle some of the forms of systematic forms of racism that we see right here in State College,” Williams continued.

“We don’t anticipate changing anyone’s point of view immediately, but hopefully, we can sow the seeds and maybe eventually, there will be a more aggressive change within the community,” Lopez said.

With season one’s episodes completed, both Williams and Lopez say they want to continue to expand their reach and dig deeper. ​They hope having more uncomfortable conversations will lead to more change.

You can follow the Black Tea Project by visiting their Facebook and YouTube pages. Their next episode comes out on Saturday, February 13.

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