The Moment We Are In
from Angela Waters Austin, CEO
From sunset to sunrise our hearts prepare for renewal with the start of the new year. A chance to start fresh. 2020 is also the beginning of the end of the decade. Reaching the end of a decade inspires reflection, celebration of accomplishments and marking life-changing milestones.
What a great time for One Love Global to be in our new space and launching the Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT). More on this below!
As many of you know, One Love Global is the Place Lead for our regional racial equity and healing justice process. We have the privilege of working closely with W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Council of Michigan Foundations in the implementation of the TRHT framework that was the brainchild of Dr. Gail Christopher and the product of over 150 different organizations that contributed to the planning and implementation guides. In our region, we have a robust TRHT Transformation Team that has supported implementation through both individual and organizational partnerships.
One of the principles we commit to in our racial healing circles is to be as fully present as possible. We eliminate distractions so that we can be in the moment. I am learning to embrace time as something other than linear. For me, being fully present means I am in each moment acknowledging my role as both descendent and ancestor and how my work is simultaneously building on the past and laying a foundation for the future.
This is One Love Global’s approach to implementing the TRHT framework.
The concept paper we submitted to WKKF envisioned TRHT as a platform to honor and build on past and present racial equity work in a more inclusive and expansive way. (Next week, I’ll share our vision for the future and some great news on how you can help!)
We closed out 2019 with a TRHT Hackathon co-hosted with City of Lansing Mayor Andy Schor that brought together leadership from grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter and The Village Lansing to brainstorm ideas for regional racial equity with leadership from Lansing Economic Area Partnership and Sparrow Hospital. Over the past three years we have worked with a team of evaluators from Michigan State University to measure our progress in implementing TRHT. One of our greatest challenges is where to focus the evaluation with limited resources when there are so many moving parts, including statewide and national partnerships. One way to manage all of these moving parts is to align the work via a central backbone organization. That is the role of One Love Global.
Showing Up As Our Fullest Selves
One Love Global is a small organization with just four full-time team members, four part-time, and 3 part-time student interns. This means we have to be very strategic with our time and our energy as we continue to grow.
In this moment in America, we have to show up as our fullest selves for those we are directly accountable to: Black children, families and communities.
We represent our community as a Black-led organization and member of The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL):
“We are Black people from all walks of life – young, elder, queer, cis, trans, differently abled. We have come together in the rich tradition of our ancestors to imagine new ways forward for our liberation. We are dreamers and doers knowing that our work draws on the best of our history but must go beyond it to forge a fierce, free and beautiful future together that we can only imagine into reality.” -- The Movement for Black Lives
As an M4BL table member of the Electoral Justice Project, I represent both One Love Global and Black Lives Matter Michigan in building a political home for ALL Black people.
Our work for 2020 will center Black youth voice and leadership in promoting the Census and expanding civic participation, building on our existing racial equity work and partnerships for even greater impact.
One Love Global's new Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation is a hub for this work, both physically and virtually. Our regional racial equity work builds collaboration between those who are directly impacted by the false belief in a racial hierarchy and allies who leverage their power for policy and systems transformation.
The Center for TRHT creates a home for our statewide and national partners, as well. One Love Global serves as the statewide backbone organization for My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), the initiative that President Barack Obama launched during his White House administration. The City of Lansing and Ingham County Commission accepted the MBK Challenge in 2015, along with Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Muskegon and Washtenaw County. The work to improve results for boys and young men of color continues as a cornerstone of The Obama Foundation.
In Michigan, we expanded to include girls via the Girls Equity Network (GEN). Our MBK-GEN hosts were delighted to receive a letter signed by President Obama commemorating our annual 2019 youth summit which was co-sponsored by City of Benton Harbor Commissioners and The Sharp Foundation. The statewide summit promoting youth as powerful agents of transformation has become one of our signature events and will return to Lansing in fall 2020.
A Gift to Give
As I meditated on the word “present” over the Christmas break it resonated with me that it also means gift. I was blessed to spend almost an entire day with Dr. Gail Christopher just before the break and it was truly a precious gift to receive.
I met Dr. Christopher at the launch of TRHT in Carlsbad, California when I was asked by Mayors Karen Weaver and Virg Bernero to represent the sister-cities on behalf of our communities. I had the opportunity to ask her the question that had been burning inside me as I read the resources shared to prepare us for the TRHT Summit: How do we do this work when everyone has their own truth about racism? In her kind and gentle way, Dr. Christopher answered, “There is one truth. There is one race and we are all human.”
I left Carlsbad on a mission to deliver the gift of TRHT to our community. Two questions were on my mind as I filled the margins of the planning guide with notes.
The first question: How to pull together an event to celebrate the inaugural National Day of Racial Healing in a matter of weeks?
The answer to this question was relatively easy since event planning is one of our strengths. We held our first screening of the America Divided series produced by Ava Durvernay, Norman Lear and Common. We facilitated dialogue over dinner to guide our visioning for TRHT Metro Lansing.
TRHT screening of "Democracy for Sale" in America Divided series, hosted March 25, 2017 at Union Missionary Baptist Church.
The inaugural National Day of Racial Healing on January 19, 2017 at the Lansing Center.
The second question: How to align existing racial equity efforts with TRHT?
The answer to this question is still a work in progress.
Prior to attending the TRHT Summit, we convened our regional MBK Anchor Team consisting of leadership from City of Lansing, Lansing School District, Ingham County Health Department, Lansing Community College, Michigan State University, Capital Area Michigan Works!, Lansing Police Department, Ingham County Prosecutors, Kappa Alpha Psi and Men Making a Difference. The team decided that we would work collectively to dismantle structural racism as our primary goal to achieve the MBK Milestones (RSVP for the National Day of Racial Healing Lunch & Learn Webinar on January 21 to take a deeper dive into the milestones). We decided to put our next steps on hiatus until we learned what tools TRHT would provide.
In the three years prior to the launch of TRHT, many MBK partners had already completed the Harvard Implicit Bias Test and Race Matters Organizational Assessments. We launched the MBK Mentoring Network to support collaboration between youth development organizations specifically focused on increasing opportunities for Black youth. Thanks to Black Lives Matter Lansing’s Invest/Divest campaign, our youth leadership program, Peace & Prosperity Youth Action Movement, was supported by city funding for the first time.
Our theory of action for TRHT is that by building power in directly impacted communities and building the capacity of allies to support the work being led by directly impacted communities, we will create an ecosystem of community-driven transformation.
We began by inviting MBK Anchors to join one of the five TRHT Teams: Narrative Change, Racial Healing & Relationship Building, Beyond Separation, Law, and Economy.
Over the past three years, teams have been joined by individuals with a passion for racial equity and transformation that improves the lives and well-being of everyone in our region. We have built a team of racial equity and healing justice practitioners who are learning about Emergent Strategy and circle keeping. We have implemented strategies to introduce TRHT in schools, churches and the business sector in addition to an ongoing collaboration with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s team to mitigate the impact of implicit bias in prosecutorial processes. We will be reigniting MBK GEN Lansing this year in partnership with the City of Lansing to align our collective commitment to educational and economic equity.
As we enter the first full week of 2020, we will be reaching out to our neighbors throughout the region to join us in celebrating the 4th National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, January 21.
The celebration will begin with a dinner reception and networking at 5pm in the pub at the Lansing Center, followed by our first community racial healing circles.
All you need to do is register via EventBrite and invite your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Space is limited so please register as soon as possible.
I look forward to sharing more to come in 2020 and beyond!
Peace & Blessings,