What We're Reading: Why racial equity requires racial healing

"Just a few days into the 118th Congress, it feels like our nation is trapped in a cycle of vitriol and discord. Thousands of (reported) hate crimes, increases in antisemitism, racist election campaigns and our enduring partisan political divide make the goal of unity under a set of universally supportive values seem farther away than ever," said La June Montgomery Tabron for MSNBC. "Meanwhile, our collective, annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which occurred yesterday, is a time when many of us participate in service projects and reflect on what it would take to achieve racial equity in the current environment."

"As we discuss the most effective ways to bring about racial equity, we need to make space for something else: racial healing. This is not because racial equity has been realized — far from it. It’s because it is clear that we can’t have one without the other. Racial equity, imposed from above, mandated by a court or lawmakers, will never stick unless there is also racial healing, grown from within and nurtured carefully."

"Racial healing is what’s needed for a country that has been poisoned by racism for centuries. It is an authentic acknowledgment of and open grappling with the generations of trauma that have been visited on all of us — Indigenous, Black, Latinx, White, Asian — since long before our founding as a nation. It is a process for connecting, telling the truth, building relationships and bridging divides so that communities can develop the trust to work together toward a more equitable future, and a world in which all our children can thrive. Racial healing begins with affirming everyone’s humanity, not 'blaming and shaming.' It’s about communities having the difficult, often uncomfortable conversations needed to build trust and discover a new sense of wholeness."

"The research here is clear. The Pew Research Center found broad public agreement that the country has made advances in racial equity, but Americans do not all agree that increasing cultural awareness of racial issues is a good thing. Only 46% of white Americans said the increased focus on racial inequity was a positive development. That’s compared to 75% of Black Americans, 64% of Asian Americans and 59% of Latinos."

"To be clear, this is not just about the work white Americans need to do. As CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, I’ve worked with incredible organizations around the world confronting the effects of racial trauma. These experiences have taught me that this is not just about white people listening to Black, brown and Indigenous people, or vice versa, but about building honest, trust-based relationships and holding authentic conversations with one another so we can all heal from the damage of systemic racism."

"This is why, as part of our recent Racial Equity 2030 challenge, our foundation is supporting organizations like Communities United in Chicago. This intergenerational, community-led organization sees how deeply so many Chicago youth are suffering from systems of racial injustice: schools being closed in already under-resourced neighborhoods, communities with no economic opportunity plagued by violence that comes from trying to survive, and poor access to housing and health care. Their partnership with the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital demonstrates what can happen when a major institution supports youth who have a wealth of lived experience in developing their leadership skills with a focus on healing. These youth learned that the deep exploration and validation of their own experiences could have profound benefits for their physical and mental health. This is healing work led by and for Black youth, to benefit their own communities."

"It’s also why we are working to make sure our own field of philanthropy, as well as others with the power to influence larger ecosystems, heed this same call to action. Changemakers and community leaders have been running full tilt for years, with many staff and volunteers burnt out and eager for stronger solidarity. Many communities of color working for justice are carrying the dual burdens of waging the fight against systemic racism while also surviving its effects. They deserve time, rest, and the space to heal, too — and it’s on all of us to help make sure they meet their needs."

Read the full article here.