The Dallas Examiner
“We understand that as a city, that Dallas – as diverse as we are – there are several, several, several, ideas of what truth, racial healing and transformation should and needs to look like,” said Joli Robinson, co-chair of the Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation workgroup. “And it may look like a variety of things to different parts of the city, to different demographics within the city, so if there is one thing that just I had to add to that, is how important it is to get a diverse, diverse – when I say diverse, not a watered-down diverse, but a true diverse group of individuals together that can help us think through what this can look like. Not only think through it, but do the work individually.”
TRHT is a comprehensive, national, community-based initiative designed to address and transform the historic and modern effects of racism. Launched in 2016, its purpose is advance the efforts of racial equality and healing throughout the United States.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a total of $24 million to be distributed over the next two to five years to TRHT groups in 14 cities across the nation, June 28.
Communities Foundation of Texas, which connects donors to charities and communities in need, reported a $1.75 million that grant would be funded over three years from the WKKF in support of a local TRHT effort across Dallas.
Robinson described how the financial gift would support the new community engagement effort.
“W. K. Kellogg has been interested in racial healing work for about 10 years. They have come together with some brilliant individuals who have this free work that allows us to go through a process, speak a similar language across the country, and go through a process of truth-telling, understanding what’s being communicated about race,” she said.
Additionally, she noted another component of the effort.
“The second part, racial healing, really focuses on healing as a process, restoring to wholeness; make sure that we’re focusing on that truth-telling that was done through the process and having new relationships based on that racial healing – that means that we’re recognizing the pain of others and moving through that process.”
The co-chair, who is also manager of community affairs in the office of the Dallas Police Department, mentioned that the TRHT was not simply about reconciliation but rather transforming social systems and structures to create something society has not experienced before. Further details are found on the Kellogg Foundation website.
“Launched in 2016, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation 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 site states. “It seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism – the main one being the belief in a hierarchy of human value.”
This year, grants were awarded to 14 places where the initiatives will be set into motion in the next two to five years. Some of those regions are notable for their history, others for their more recent headlines, and include the state of Alaska; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Greater Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Selma, Alabama; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Battle Creek, Flint, and Lansing, Michigan, per the Kellogg Foundation.
Specific elements of the foundation can be found at http://healourcommunities.org. Robinson, a local resident for more than 20 years, feels that the Dallas TRHT could only be a positive step for the city based upon what she has seen.
“With respect to those who have been doing the work of racial healing and racial equity work – whether that’s in public education, whether that’s in housing, whether that’s in health care, city government, county government aspects – I can say that over the years and just by interactions here in the city … just understanding that there have been generations of individuals that have worked hard here in Dallas to focus on race,” she said. “And I’m just huge in recognizing where our roots and where our foundations come from, and as we move into a future Dallas what does it look like for us, leading on the efforts of the past? What does it look like to go through the process of true racial healing and transformation?”
The multiyear engagement will join nonprofits, civic organizations, community groups and individuals to address racism.
A window into the selection methods for the grants was provided by Kellogg Communications Officer Rebecca Noricks in a written response to a query from The Dallas Examiner.
“During its design phase in 2016, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation began receiving calls inquiring about its TRHT process from communities looking for assistance in responding to significant local racial incidents.” The goal of the TRHT is to address structural racism, the root cause of many such incidents, Noricks indicated.
“Ultimately, the foundation selected the 14 places based on the calls it received from communities, including Dallas, who indicated their readiness as well as communities where the foundation already had active priority place-based work.”
There were three main criteria for the grant: interest and commitment to TRHT; history of the area; and readiness for the process.
“Each TRHT place submitted a concept paper drafted by a multi-sector coalition and through the review of the paper and proposal, the final 14 were selected,” Noricks explained.
According to a written statement provided by Robinson, Dallas TRHT will be “broadly inclusive, nonpartisan and collaborative in nature, and will constantly add to the collection of people and organizations interested in contributing to improving Dallas for all of its residents, no matter what their race or background.”
Local funding will also supplement the foundation’s contribution. Currently, Communities Foundation of Texas, Embrey Family Foundation, Lyda Hill Foundation and United Way of Dallas have been the initial contributors towards the program.
Robinson pointed out that, aside from even more local nonprofits anticipated to participate, individuals could also help play a role in the endeavor. Additional information on how to get involved with the TRHT can be found online at http://www.dallastrht.org.
“One of the potential outcomes that I would like to see is, number one, this is a process that perhaps will never end … so there’s not going to be some glory day when we get to kind of relax and sit back on our winnings and our accomplishments, but really, that we’re focusing on equity and racial equity in all aspects of our city relationships,” she said. It is an undertaking that the co-chair said she takes seriously.
“If I had something that is probably a little more personal for me, it’s really authentic and true relationships. I think authentic and true relationships are something where you have a relationship with someone across color lines. Across socioeconomic lines. Across all sorts of boundaries and boxes, right?” Robinson said.
“If you have the ability and the capacity and the real effort to build positive relationships here in the city there is no stopping the progress that can be made when it comes to us thinking about any local policies that affect any group of individuals. If I have a relationship with someone who has a different life experience than I do then I’m going to think twice about anything that may harm them, any action I may take, any policy that’s written, and I can show up for someone.
“I can be an advocate, I can be an ally for someone in their life and their experiences without having to personally having to experience it myself – but that can only happen if we have that relationship.”