LOMITA, Calif. — With each like, share, or comment, people on social media like Cassi Hammond see news through their own lens. And with the current climate of race relations in America, it also made her unsure of how to support some messages from the Black Lives Matter movement as a Caucasian woman.

“I got the feeling that I agree with what they are saying, and what they were saying was very empowering to the Black community and very, don’t hold yourself down,” Hammond said.

In fear of retaliation, Hammond didn’t share the post she saw at the time, she said. Instead, she left a comment.

“Just commented, 'I’m afraid as a white woman to share this because of how I would be received,' and Ike responded,” Hammond said.

What You Need To Know

  • Two strangers started a friendship online through sharing their opposing views and gaining a better understanding about each perspective

  • They then created a Facebook page encouraging others to reach out to someone with a different perspective with #CommonGround

  • The two talked privately about Black Lives Matter protests, current politics, abortion, and more

Ike Etim, a Black man from across the nation reached out to Hammond in hopes of finding common ground.

“I reached out to her and said 'Hey, we can start up a private chat. And we can discuss all the issues you want to discuss and you can let it all out and I can let it out and you know we can see where each other is coming from,'” Etim said.

That gave them the opportunity to have their first civil conversation despite opposing views on current politics, Black Lives Matter protests, abortion, and so much more. In the process they said they’ve found common ground by learning about the other’s perspective and from sharing their personal experiences.

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  • Some in the movement question participation of whites, others welcome it

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“In talking to Ike, I’ve learned to not necessarily go with the first story I hear on Facebook and or just believe someone because they are a social influencer with a million followers,” Hammond said.

“You know, the one thing I would say that we found common ground on is just having a civil discussion between two adults and not berating each other,” Etim said.

Now, they are hoping to challenge others in each of their communities to find someone who might not have the same perspective and see if they can find common ground, they said. With a goal to unite all Americans, Hammond and Etim created the Common Ground Challenge Facebook page, asking others to take part in respectful conversations and sharing their experience with the #CommonGround on social media.

“Let’s stop focusing on the differences and let’s focus on what we have in common so that we can start having those harder conversations,” Hammond said.

Until then, they will continue to have these important conversations and put their differences aside in hopes of learning more from each other.