Creating opportunities for racial healing must include opportunities for race consciousness building, which requires talking openly, and honestly about what hinders deep cross-race alliance. In response and through this project, Arise will nourish neglected areas of anti-racist activism; honest inventory, true accountability and shared spiritual practice. In order to meet these expectations the project will pursue the following strategies: increasing collective knowledge of the consequences of racism; understanding the impact and costs of white supremacy and white privilege for people of color as well as for white people; and exploring how to heal from the 250 + years of racism in this country.
The Concentric Circles program is rooted in a highly successful model utilized by Arise in the past during a campaign around the criminalization of poor women in the Springfield, MA community, Women In Support of Each other (W.I.S.E.). In order to do effective campaign work with formerly incarcerated women, the process had to first look at patriarchy and a deeply sexist society that criminalizes women as a means for social control. Reflecting those successes, this racial healing project will include: part-time paid organizers; a cap on the size of groups in order to provide a safe space for initial sharing and healing; a commitment from all participants to meet weekly for a period of 10 weeks; a prepared series of topics to be explored in a popular education model to encourage all participants active engagement; the logistical supports to ensure sustained involvement (e.g. transportation, stipends, childcare); weekly sessions to root the collective spiritual journey, exploring a different culture’s path of enlightenment each week; and the development of strong lasting relationships. Focusing this work on parents (specifically single parent households) ensures that this learning will continue and is shared with the next generation. The culmination will be a 25-hour Undoing Racism Training open to all participants where participants create a strategic plan to reduce racial inequities and promote racial healing in the larger community.