What is racial healing and why is it so important to achieving racial equity?
Racial healing is a process for connecting, building relationships and bridging divides so that communities can work together toward a more equitable future.
It provides space to speak and hear hard truths about past and present wrongs and discuss their impact on individuals, families and communities. By fostering this dialogue, racial healing helps build trust among people and restores communities to wholeness, so they can work together to change the systems and structures to affirm the inherent value of all people.
Racial healing isn’t just important, it plays an essential role at the very heart of building racial equity. We live in an increasingly polarized society, where we often fail to recognize each other’s shared humanity and the diversity of our collective history and experiences. The honest, authentic conversations that racial healing enables are critical for building trust and helping communities discover where they can work together to develop systems and structures – from education, housing and health care to transportation, justice and the economy – that affirm the inherent value of all people and create opportunities for all people to thrive.
We recognize the National Day of Racial Healingevery January to start the conversation. But, importantly, it’s not a one-day action; it’s an annual kick-off for year-round commitments of coming together and building relationships to address the root causes of inequities and create the communities to which we all aspire, that work equitably for everyone.
What’s the role of solidarity in racial healing and racial equity?
Solidarity is a means for recognizing our profound interconnectedness as human beings and a key pathway to racial healing and racial equity.
Even closer to home, I’ve been excited to see how our own leadership team at the foundation has harnessed solidarity to not only weather the darkest moments of the pandemic but to emerge with a greater sense of unity, purpose and alignment around our mission throughout the organization.
While leadership skills were critical to strengthening the team during the worst of the COVID crisis, solidarity – owning and feeling the journeys that others are on while working through your own —played an essential role in our ability to step up our work and grow when our grantees and the communities we serve needed us the most.
Tell us about this formidable and influential image at the center of this year’s annual snapshot, of the young boy dreaming? How does it reflect the Kellogg Foundation’s work this year?
I love this image because it shows me hope, that children can dream of a better future – because of all of us that surround the children.
The past year has led many of us to be hopeful that we’re moving beyond the most dire impacts of the pandemic – yet despite this, grantees and communities continue to reel with the consequences of increasing inequities.
While the work ahead feels daunting with the pandemic not fully in the rearview mirror, this image was created in our efforts to build greater understanding of the power of racial healing. In June, we announced a year-long partnership with NBCUniversal to share more stories about the ongoing impact of racial healing across the country. We kicked this off at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where we commissioned artist David Eldred – who is originally from Battle Creek – to hear from festival attendees about their visions for an equitable future. From these conversations, Eldred created this powerful image of the young boy dreaming of all the opportunities for his future.
View this artwork
"Every Child Dreams" by David Eldred
For me, this piece of art also reflects how children are at the core of our bold and transformative initiative aimed at creating equitable outcomes for children and families around the globe: Racial Equity 2030. In Sept. 2021, we announced ten finalists that each received a $1 million planning grant, with nine months of capacity-building support to further build out and explore their projects to build racial equity locally. In October 2022, we were excited to announce the five awardees who were named to receive a combined $80 million over the next eight years, concluding in 2030, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 100th anniversary.
One of the most powerful aspects of Eldred’s picture is the dream that’s visualized at its very center: People of all different backgrounds, coming together to tackle a towering mountain. Changing the systems that define our lives — education, housing, health care, transportation, justice and the economy – so that they work for all children, all families and all communities, will require precisely that kind of bold, hand-in-hand, collective action.
That’s the world we’re working for at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, so I suppose you could say it's our dream, too.