Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Movement and the Five Pillars

The purpose of the US Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (THRT) movement is to properly acknowledge and memorialize the comprehensive effects of centuries of adherence to a racism ideology and to be a catalyst for progress toward jettisoning the belief in a hierarchy of human value, embracing our common humanity, and permanently eliminating persistent racial inequalities. The TRHT Movement is enabling the creation of a collective vision for a future and a present without racism and its harmful consequences on the health of individuals and the society as a whole.

TRHT Movement and the Five Pillars

True racial healing requires that we fully acknowledge the truth about the deep wounds of our past and their legacy today, learn to embrace our common humanity, and recognize our interdependency. Sustainable healing from racism cannot be about reconciling to some mythical past. It must be about telling the truth about our past as a way to heal from the wounds of the past and to unleash the power of our hearts and minds to jettison the racial hierarchy and transform our future. We must replace the fear-driven divisions with an authentic narrative in which we can see ourselves in one another.

Today, communities, organizations, and college campuses, across the country are utilizing the TRHT Framework to bring together people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to create new narratives based on hard truths, to build meaningful relationships across racial and ethnic lines, and to address both the structures that keep us separated and the legal and economic structures that yield racially disparate outcomes.

The TRHT process is built on a framework of five pillars—narrative change, racial healing and relationship-building, separation, the law, and the economy—that must be addressed to achieve true and lasting transformation. Each of the five pillars addresses a key issue that must be confronted in order to transform our society. The diagram above illustrates this framework:

Within each pillar the following structured five-step process will lead to structural change:

• Describe a vision for a future in which the myth of a hierarchy of human value has been jettisoned.

• Explore where we are now and how we got here.

• Analysis of the key pressure points for achieving transformative change within each pillar.

• Identify the key stakeholders who must be engaged in the transformative activities.

• Recommend actions to achieve this change, beginning with “low-hanging fruit” and building on early successes to tackle more difficult challenges.

Beginning the process with a clear sense of our vision of a society without a racial hierarchy, rather than focusing on solving an immediate problem, enables us to see the big picture and to establish a well-defined direction for our journey to a new society. Once this direction is established, an analysis of how to address the other four issues follows logically.

While informed by insights from the international Truth and Reconciliation and Transitional Justice movements, the TRHT Framework with its five pillars is designed to be effective in the unique culture and ethos of the centuries old, diverse, and established democracy of the United States of America. As such, the TRHT process is best implemented in local jurisdictions or by large organizations and their local affiliates, with coordination and resources provided by the Federal government.

Applying the TRHT Process with SJREC

Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative [SJREC], convened by The Sophia Institute, has employed the TRHT process to help achieve its vision for Charleston, SC and surrounding communities for “a just, sustainable, and thriving community where all people of all races are empowered to fulfill their human potential.” The TRHT Framework is built on five pillars—Narrative Change, Racial Healing and Relationship Building, Separation, The Law, and The Economy. To implement the TRHT framework and the structured, five-step TRHT process, five subgroups were created, one subgroup for each of the five pillars. Each subgroup met virtually in a process facilitated by Dr. Gail Christopher, whose vision led to the creation of the TRHT concept and who is the driving force behind its implementation.

The TRHT process begins with and is grounded in creatively imagining/envisioning a community that has both faced and committed to redressing, healing from and replacing the belief in a hierarchy of human value – racism – with an ethos and an increased individual and collective capacity for “seeing ourselves in the face of the other.” Thus, each subgroup began the process by developing a vision statement for its pillar within the context of Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative’s overall vision for Charleston and the surrounding communities. The process concluded with each subgroup developing a set of recommendations that will help to advance the vision for its pillar, as well as Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative’s overall vision for the community.

Racial Healing Circles

While work is still ongoing with each of the 5 subgroups for Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative [SJREC}, focus in 2021 is in the development of Racial Healing Circles in the Charleston area following the model created by Dr. Gail Christopher and the national design teams.

SJREC’s vision for Racial Healing and Relationship Building in Charleston begins by acknowledging and, over time, dismantling the false ideology of a hierarchy of human value with the intention of transforming our community through our embracing of the understanding of our common humanity.