(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Prior to
the displays of hatred and the tragic loss of Heather Heyer, a young woman who
seemingly embraced the virtues of healing, a transformation was taking place in
Charlottesville, Virginia. This college town, where roughly 80 percent of the
residents are white, culminated a lawful process in February when its City
Council voted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park.
Passionate acts came from
opposing sides, as opponents filed suit to stop the removal and the city
changed the name of Lee Park to Emancipation Park. But there was honest
dialogue and truth-telling, the ingredients for healing. Neighbors learned more
about one another, their culture and motivations. But the progress was
The protesters who converged in
Charlottesville were largely white men often perceived as privileged in our
society, and among their slogans was "We will not be replaced" by
immigrants, blacks, Jews, or homosexuals. Instead of feeling empowered,
they were threatened and seemed in pain. Their hearts and minds needed healing.
But racial healing doesn't begin
until you intentionally, respectfully and patiently uncover shared truths, as
Charlottesville residents had begun to do before the violence and turmoil.
Shared truths are not simply the removal of physical symbols, like monuments.
While it may begin to change narratives, it doesn't reach the level of healing
that jettisons racism from the land or creates equitable communities. Racism
has persevered because remedies ranging from public accommodation laws to
Supreme Court rulings are limited in scope and reach: They fail to change
hearts and minds.
A new approach is needed that
penetrates the full consciousness of our society, draws in all communities and
focuses on racial healing and truth-telling.
Racial healing can facilitate
trust and authentic relationships that bridge vast divides created by race,
religion, ethnicity and economic status. Once the truths are shared, racism is
acknowledged and hearts begin to mend, only then will communities begin to heal
the wounds of the past and together move forward to address the bias in
employment, education, housing and health that causes widespread disparities,
and denies opportunities to our children.
To be sure, racial healing is
predicated not just on an emotional encounter, such as saying, 'you're sorry,'
rather it's predicated on a truth-telling. But who's truth? We all have our own
truth and we need collective conversations to help us in reaching a common
truth and a vision for the future, based on what we decide together.
And while sharing each of our
individual truths requires sharing stories, reaching a common truth is more
than a blending of stories. It's about co-creating a common set of morals,
principles, wisdom and guidance that is written on our hearts, captured in our
faith and in how we treat each other as human beings. It is developed by all of
us in the courtyard, in town halls, in living rooms with family and neighbors,
all in the crucible of human goodness. That's where we develop "the"
At the W. K. Kellogg Foundation
(WKKF), we promote racial healing because it moves people to act from their
hearts. Real change happens when people work together and build relationships.
Rarely does it occur when it is forced upon communities by laws and rulings.
Last January, WKKF coordinated an annual National Day of Racial Healing, which
inspired civic, religious, community and philanthropic organizations to collaborate
on activities to facilitate racial healing. But we can't wait until next
January to embrace racial healing.
Today, with the threat of unrest
billowing through communities, our country needs to heal. All sides must air
their pasts, fears, and anxieties, and articulate their visions for a future
where all children can thrive.
After centuries of racial
hierarchy, all sides have been wounded: Whenever a policy or decision gives
privileges to some and not others or perpetuates injustices, the collective community
suffers, and part of our common humanity is lost. It leaves some wounded and
unable to work towards our collective interest.
What is inspiring is the healing
that is happening around the country. Earlier this year, 200 people gathered at
the Chicago Theological Seminary for an extraordinary day of racial healing.
People of all races, genders, religions and ethnicities, gathered in healing
circles to share their "truths" on the racism they endured or
consciously or unconsciously unleashed on others. The healing circles were
sanctuaries for truth-telling, and helped people see one another, acknowledge
differences and begin to build authentic relationships.
WKKF, through our Truth, Racial
Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework, is supporting racial healing in
the 14 places where the TRHT is being implemented. Since 2010, when our
America Healing initiative launched, WKKF has actively promoted racial healing
and supported racial healing practitioners who are available to help
communities, concluding that:
*Racial healing accelerates human
capacity for resilience, truly embracing one another and reconnecting many
people who previously had their identities denied back to their roots, culture,
language and rituals.
*The focus of racial healing is
our "collective humanity," and lifting up that which unites us rather
than that which divides us, while discovering, respecting and indeed honoring
our unique experiences.
*Racial healing will facilitate narrative
change, which will help everyone in communities articulate the truth about
their collective histories and be exposed to full, complete and accurate
representations of themselves and their communities.
Communities must heal so they can
grow. Let's heal and build sustainable progress neighbor by neighbor, community
by community to transform America so all children can have a brighter future.