TRUTH, RACIAL HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION

Creating sustaining spaces for dialogue, reflection and action.
 
 
 
 
 
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Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

The effects of racism are evident in the social, economic and government policies all around us and the places we live, learn, work and play. People can experience these effects in every social and political realm of their daily existence in what educator and community activist, Jeewan Chanicka, terms as “death by a thousand cuts”. This happens in frequent and unexpected ways that are dangerously normalized - when people of color take their children to school, when they apply for jobs, when they try to rent or buy a home, when they shop, when in leisure spaces, when driving, when interacting with the police, and increasingly, when going about their daily routines of living and working.

TRHT works to unearth and jettison deeply held, and sometimes unconscious, beliefs created by racism – the main one being the belief in a “hierarchy of human value.”

This absurd belief, which has fueled racism, conscious and unconscious bias throughout cultures in the United States, is the perception of inferiority or superiority based on race, physical characteristics or place of origin. It is when we value one person more than another based on skin color or other physical, superficial characteristics and let those values affect the decisions we make each day in areas like policymaking, in job decisions, in how we teach children and adults – to name a few. 

 
 
 
We seek an inclusive city where every person is valued and no one is left behind; where all of our neighborhoods are neighborhoods of opportunity; where our schools are no longer segregated but filled with children from every level of income and who acquire the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for college or for living wage entry-level jobs; where our businesses are known for excellent job-training and a solid record of hiring Richmond residents; where innovative social enterprises comprised of worker-owned businesses are created and financed by our foundations and anchor institutions; and where public transportation links the interior of neighborhoods to major commercial and industrial thoroughfares in the city as well as the surrounding counties.
— John Moeser - Former Professor of Urban Studies & Planning, VCU
 
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IofC’s work in TRHT takes place through a layered, conceptual approach and set of interconnected practices. This represents our commitment to reflect inclusively on the history of Virginia’s central region, our nation and relationships with communities across the world; to facilitate, create and sustain a constellation of spaces where honest, heartfelt conversations can take shape about different perspectives of historical experience among people who wouldn’t normally share with one another in this way; and where accountability is encouraged and supported as we make shifts internally and collectively to transform our communities into more equitable, healthy and just spaces for all persons. 

In fact, Initiatives of Change’s TRHT approach began with the critical program work of Hope in the Cities in Richmond, twenty-five years ago. Richmond is a city that symbolizes the U.S.’s history of racial oppression and current legacies of inequity.  In the mid-nineteenth century, Richmond was the nation’s largest interstate market of enslaved Africans; it was the capital of the Confederate States; and Virginia led a campaign of “Massive Resistance” following Brown v. Board of Education.  Richmond continues to struggle with a reputation for being a city “starkly divided along racial lines” and “congenitally resistant to change of any kind,” in the words of Senator Tim Kaine, who served as the city’s mayor from 1998-2001. 

In 2017, Initiatives of Change expanded our commitment to developing structures of truth, racial healing and transformation with funding partner, W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), in a multi-year effort to shift Richmond from systems that reflect the centuries-old notion of human hierarchy to a place where everyone’s humanity is respected regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, class, or country of origin. Richmond is one of 14 communities across the United States selected by WKKF to implement this initiative. This 3-year, 1.7 million project is intended to catalyze a community-wide process. A coalition of IofC partners is growing that includes grassroots individuals and organizations, universities, cultural institutions, non-profits, corporations and faith based communities.


Richmond is uniquely positioned to do the work of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), because of its roots within the history of slavery. We will build, affirm and empower individuals by building self sufficiency, affirming dignity and empowering transformative behavior beginning with changing the narrative.
— Lillie A. Estes - Community Strategist, ALO Community Strategy