I shared an invitation two months ago encouraging folks to find ways to celebrate the National Day of Racial Healing in their own communities, with their own neighbors, in their own way. My hope was to share simple ways we could connect with those around us to have conversations about race and racism. I wanted people to know simple was just fine – you didn’t have to plan large scale events in order to make an impact.
Working for the Kellogg Foundation has inspired me all the more to continue my racial healing journey, inside and outside of the office. I checked out our events page to see if anyone was hosting an event near me. To my surprise, not only did I find an event in my community, it was a coffee chat to be hosted at one of my favorite coffee shops. It was a no-brainer for me to attend. I emailed the host to RSVP and said while I work for WKKF, I’d love to show up as a community member.
On January 17, 2023, I arrived at Enderly Coffee and met the host of our chat, Alexandra. With coffee in hand, we shared introductions as the four others began to arrive.
Alexandra said, “At first blush, racial healing can seem like another ‘next, new, or shiny’ thing in the racial justice realm, but it is an important and necessary companion and guide, even on the continuous journey to racial equity.”
We went around the table and shared what the phrase racial healing meant to each of us, and why we found it important to be at an event like the one we were attending. I specifically asked Alexandra about our community in Charlotte and the work she’s doing here as a local racial equity/justice practitioner and academic.
She said, “I love to make occasions to have substantive conversation with people. I’m an educator and trainer, but facilitating is my favorite role; I am the expert on my own experience, as I like to say, and everyone else is as such for their respective experiences. This occasion was about creating shared experiences to get grounded in our shared humanity. Pretense and posturing aside, I think conversations on topics like this, even if just from curiosity, are a great way to disarm, dig in, open up and just be with one another. Nine out of ten times, I’m gathering team meetings, one-on-one work things, you name it at my favorite local coffee shop, Enderly Coffee. As long as the owner was game, that part was a no brainer! Having coffee (or tea or water) across the table from people in a comforting environment can be a salve of sorts for what could include difficult, contentious or painful dialogue in the process and pursuit of healing.”
At the end of our conversations, Alexandra asked each of us to share one word about how we were feeling leaving this event. The words shared were: hopeful, encouraged, safe, joyful.
Racial healing isn’t a one-and-done body of work. It’s an everyday practice of seeing our shared humanity and working toward a place of connection and solidarity with our fellow neighbors and communities. Over time, by understanding each other’s experiences in the communities we share, we start to see ways to work together to create a better or more equitable world.
I’m grateful to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, connecting with people on this journey.