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Initiated by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation enterprise, a National Day of Racial Healing on January 17 Will Help Americans Heal and Overcome Deep Racial Divisions

Dr. Gail C. Christopher
America’s Wire Writers Group

WASHINGTON - Just five days before inauguration of Donald Trump as the country’s 45th President, millions of Americans on January 15 will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   For many, memories of the civil rights icon revolve around his momentous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, calling for an end to racism and to the expansion of economic opportunities.  

Dr. King’s brilliance - strategic leadership of the Civil Rights Movement to unparalleled courage and integrity – is often over shadowed by the speech that scholars hailed as the 20th century’s top public address in the U.S. Unfortunately, Dr. King’s dream of equality articulated in 1963 remains unfulfilled in many communities today – a reality affirming the continued structural inequities and bias spurring widespread disparities in social conditions and opportunities for people of color.    

Think about Dr. King’s powerful vision.  “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  That’s the America many of us strive to create, but clearly, despite progress in some areas, we are still seeking to realize.

Furthermore, the vitriolic, divisive rhetoric and raw emotions raging throughout the  past year pulled the scab off a persistent wound in the American psyche, bringing the issue of race front and center and exposing the divides in our society. What does the nation do about it?  How do we move forward on a path toward racial equity that facilitates racial healing, dismantles structural racism and lifts vulnerable children on a path to success?

To-be-sure, America has made progress over the decades.  Government and the courts enacted statutes and rulings ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that outlawed public discrimination, while purportedly providing equal opportunities. Yet, these actions only addressed the effects of racism, not its core foundation.  Time has demonstrated that government and courts can enact and uphold laws, but they don’t change hearts, minds and souls or address the root cause of racism.  

To-be-sure, America has made progress over the decades.  Government and the courts enacted statutes and rulings ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that outlawed public discrimination, while purportedly providing equal opportunities. Yet, these actions only addressed the effects of racism, not its core foundation.  Time has demonstrated that government and courts can enact and uphold laws, but they don’t change hearts, minds and souls or address the root cause of racism.  

Racism is rooted in the false belief in a human hierarchy, an antiquated taxonomy of the human family, which has fueled structural racism and conscious and unconscious bias throughout U.S. culture with a perception of inferiority or superiority based on race, physical characteristics or place of origin.  Whites are placed at the top and all other racial groups in descending order.  This absurd notion, which science has soundly discredited, was used to justify colonization and enslavement for centuries. And the false ideology fuels white supremacist movements and other overt expressions of racial and ethnic hatred and bigotry. 

The United States has witnessed how the belief manifests in many ways. From coast to coast, communities experience disparities for people of color in health, education, employment and housing.

Furthermore, high profile police shootings involving people of color has fueled the perception that the criminal justice system is unfair and bias. In fact, a study by  University of California, Davis anthropologist Cody Ross  found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.” 

It appears Dylann Roof, the convicted murderer of nine worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in CharlestonSC, was motivated by a belief that he was somehow superior to blacks and others. Friends said Roof complained that "blacks were taking over the world" and he vowed to start a race war

Dr. King understood that the belief in racial hierarchy created barriers to our country’s capacity to fulfill the promise of our democratic ideals. It is time for us to fully eliminate this hierarchy of human value and jettison the antiquated concept. Only then can all of our children be embraced not because of the color of their skin or other physical characteristics, but by their innate essence, their humanity.

Our country needs racial healing and a sustained effort to avert the racism that influences public and private systems, practices and policies. The racial healing can move us toward one another in a spirit of wholeness and love. A transformative, positive change can come from this shift in our individual and collective consciousness and the resulting actions we take on behalf of ourselves, our children and future generations of our human family.

After decades of funding diverse communities to help improve the lives of vulnerable children, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) leadership recognizes the need for racial healing and eliminating racism, and replacing it with the affirmation of our equal and shared humanity. The hierarchy of human value is deeply embedded consciously, systematically, structurally and unconsciously by the people and systems adhering to it. 

Removing it from our society will require a concerted effort over time. The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) enterprise created by WKKF and a broad coalition of organizations from all sectors of society is working to end the belief and facilitate racial healing. TRHT is a community-driven vehicle for transformative change.  The TRHT approach examines how the belief system became embedded in our society, both its culture, and structures, and then works with communities to design and implement effective actions that will permanently uproot it. We are marshaling individual, local, public and private resources to dismantle systemic, structurally-based patterns of discrimination at the municipal, county, state, Tribal and federal levels. 

At a recent summit, 570 people representing the 130 TRHT partner organizations issued a call to action to designate January 17, 2017 as the inaugural National Day of Racial Healing in America.

Supporting Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses Must be a National Priority

By Connie Evans

WASHINGTON -  After Noemi Prado had devoted 29 years to working for Southwest Moulding in Grand Prairie, TX, the owners decided to close the business. But Ms. Prado gathered her retirement savings and other financing to purchase the company, a transaction that has sustained and created jobs for 40 people in her community.

A key aspect of the financing was a $825,000 loan that she received from the Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (VEDC), a non-profit organization that provides affordable business assistance services, direct financial assistance, and entrepreneurial training to minority businesses and entrepreneurs.  “If it wasn’t for VEDC, it wouldn’t have happened,” Ms. Prado said, noting that it was difficult to obtain traditional bank financing.  

Research by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) shows that a large percentage of people want to be like Ms. Prado and run their own businesses.  At the same time, however, many would-be entrepreneurs lack the access to mentors, capital and support networks that could help them get up and running.      

That’s the problem our nation faces.

Small businesses are actually creating a higher percentage of new jobs than big companies, but entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle to get the access to capital and the knowledge, known as ’trusted guidance’ in the microbusiness industry, that they need to start or sustain their businesses. The reality is that significant barriers limit opportunities for business owners of color.  They face discrimination in the banking world, have fewer wealth assets, and often lack the technical skills, like financial management, to make their dreams and aspirations come true.

Yet, there are new developments that are slowly changing the landscape for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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Breaking Down Beliefs of Racial Hierarchy

By Dr. Gail C. Christopher
America’s Wire Writers Group

WASHINGTON, DC - Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Movement led to a series of laws banning public discrimination.  African Americans were no longer barred from certain restaurants, some schools were integrated and fair housing laws created more living options.  But today, it’s clear that court rulings and legislation didn’t change the root cause of conscious and unconscious bias – the widespread belief in racial hierarchy still exists. 

As a nation, we didn’t understand the power of this belief, this misguided notion that some people are either superior or inferior because of the color of their skin.

This bias manifests in many ways. Unarmed men and women are killed by police and civilians, the justice system seems tilted toward whites, and there remains unequal treatment for children and adults when it comes to health, education, housing and employment.  David R. Williams, a sociology professor at Harvard University, cites studies showing that when whites, blacks and Hispanics visited hospital emergency rooms with the same ailment, white patients received pain medication more frequently than people of color.

Does that make the physicians racist?

That may not be the case. With the advancements in neuroscience, we now know much more about the power of the mind. We understand that unconscious beliefs are deeply held, that centuries of this belief system have unconsciously shaped how some of us respond.  But now, 21st century technology – YouTube, cell phones, dashboard cameras, body cameras – are leveraged to shape new beliefs about our humanity. They are capturing and exposing vivid samples of people of color abused and dehumanized. We must move beyond the absurd notion that some people have more value than others.

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Highlights

 

Nebraska School Program Brings Diversity

Fifth graders in Omaha school.

 

Literature Bridges Racial Divide

Paul Young
Bestselling Author

 

Supreme Ct. Pressed to Deprive
Justice for Torture Victims

Tortured plantiffs won $21 million judgement.

 

Children of Color Disadvantaged
By Structural Bias in America

Dr. Gail C. Christopher
W.K. Kellog Foundation

 

Experts Dispute Study Claiming End
to Racial Segregation in U.S. Cities

Philip Tegeler
Poverty and Race
Research Action Council

 

Educators Alarmed: Black, Latino
Students Performing Poorly

Amy Wilikins
Vice President
Education Trust

 

White-Minorities Age Gap May
Increase Racial Divide in U.S.

Manuel Pastor
Professor
University Southern California

 

Latinos Praise Fed
Hate Crime Investigation

Commentary
By Marisa Tevino

 

Slavery Documentary Spurs Racial Healing; Helps Blacks & Whites

DeWolf family visits river in Ghana,where captured Africans bathed.

 

Maternal Deaths Increase For
African-American Women

Dr. Kerry Lewis

Howard University

 

California AG with New Ideas on How to Fight Crime

Kamala Harris

California Attorney General

 

People of Color Needed for Important Genetic Research

Carlos D. Bustamante

Stanford University geneticist

 

Civil Rights Commission Questioned: Does it have a purpose?

Wade Henderson

President

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

 

Black Female Lawyers Leaving
Private Practice for Corporate Work

Laurie Robinson

CEO/Founder

Corporate Counsel Women of Color

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