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: