There are 3 core elements that that consider “our truth”. They inform our understanding of how best to engage in racial justice work.
Element One: Radical Democracy
The Racial Reconciliation & Healing model arises from a Radical Democracy political framework focused on structural racism. This framework assumes that racism, “a system of advantage based on race” (David Wellman), operates through policies, practices, systems, and structures that work in tandem with other forms of oppression to maintain a state of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.
Element Two: Head & Heart
Racism, among many things, is a form of trauma that operates generationally and in our everyday contexts. While the trauma is more acute and health harming for POC, White people have lost a “connection” with their hearts and bodies as well; one that must be mended in the process of liberation. We know that healing trauma is not only a cognitive exercise, it is also a heart exercise that must be intentionally addressed to coax forward the beliefs that have hardened within it.
On the higher risk days (hearts days) the group is lead through personal exploration into racial identity development theory, internalized privilege and oppression, training on the various levels of racism, and how they intersect with other forms of oppression. This is done via affinity groups, speak outs, role playing, healing circles, and a number of other activities developed collaboratively.
While there is an explicit focus on the “heart work” of racial justice in the Racial Reconciliation & Healing model, there are also weekly trainings that engage young people in the systems analysis, epidemiology and other core public health concepts. Youth are also trained in organizing and hear from a variety of speakers who represent justice efforts across housing, transportation, employment and prison abolition.
Element Three: Roles
The critical tool of routine racial justice affinity space (where POC and White participants meet separately) augments our mixed-race work. We submit that People of Color and White People have very different roles in racial justice work. The roles are informed by the ways in which racism and oppression have been internalized within these two groups. Thus, it is preferable that white people are directing to other white people their discovery, understanding and dismantling of how they have internalized a sense of white supremacy and superiority. Likewise, it is preferable that POC (cross racially/ethnically) are directing to other POC, their discovery, understanding and dismantling of how they have internalized a sense of oppression. This racial affinity work augments the mixed race work of co-designing and co-creating a world of solidarity.