I have been in formal meetings and involved in informal chats in recent weeks with people of a wide range of backgrounds and ages regarding the proper next steps on how to deal with our racial discrimination and inequity issues. But despite the diversity of individuals with whom I have had the opportunity to speak, two words have been a part of virtually every conversation I have had: trust and healing.
Trust is defined as the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. In the context of race relations, trust comes up in the context of whether there is a real and sincere recognition of the visible and hidden impact of blatant and hidden racism in our country, state and community. There also is a question of trust that the current high level of interest in having substantive discussions on race relations will be sustained once people get back to their normal routines.
Healing means to make free from injury or disease or to make whole. Racial healing is a common theme that relates to empathy for the communities that have been impacted by systemic racism over America’s history. In the haste to get started on fixing things, well-meaning leaders miscalculate the personal and collective healing that individual persons and groups of peoples must go through when a tragedy like George Floyd’s killing occurs. Further emotional damage has occurred since at least two more in-custody deaths of black men in the U.S. have occurred since the May 25 killing of George Floyd.
It takes time to build trust. Healing occurs differently depending on the person over time. The fundamental question is how to balance the mandate to take appropriate action now while respecting the time required to build trust and facilitate healing.
One bold first step is the Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition that was recently initiated by Mayor Jacob Frey. He has appointed Felicia Perry, Allison Sharkey and Jonathan Weinhagen as its co-chairs.
Minneapolis Forward is described as “a cross-sector action team that will help transform Minneapolis into a stronger, equitable, inclusive, resilient, and innovative city. This coalition is rooted in the expertise and experiences of Black people, Indigenous communities, people of color, and immigrants, including youth, in coalition with other leaders within private, philanthropic, and public sectors. Together, we will lead with civility, justice, and an intentional approach to delivering systemic solutions.” This is an ambitious vision for our community.
The Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition has eight focus areas:
- Business Retention in impacted communities
- Prioritize BIPOC/Minority-Owned Businesses that were already struggling even before COVID-19
- Supporting Entrepreneurs who Invest in the community
- Support for Real Estate Owners whose properties have been destroyed and directly impacted and where insurance will not cover the losses.
- Housing Preservation to ensure communities will thrive
- Inclusive Economic Solutions
- Immediate Needs of Impacted Residents
- Reimagining Public Spaces
I look forward to being a part of this team as we work to transform lives and an entire community. But, both trust and healing take time. I encourage all my colleagues involved in the myriad efforts to transform our community to realize that we must meet people and communities where they are and not try to dictate when they should be willing to trust or become frustrated if healing has not occurred as quickly as we might like.
La June Montgomery Tabron is President and CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She describes racial healing as “a process we can undertake as individuals, in communities and across society as a whole. In healing, we recognize our common humanity, acknowledge the truth of past wrongs and build the authentic relationships capable of transforming communities and shifting our national discourse.” I am optimistic that Minneapolis is on the course she has described.