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Let’s celebrate differences, repair divisions on National Day of Racial Healing

Today, Jan. 16, marks an important day in today’s political climate – the National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH). Today’s significance should ring true for our community because the healing from racial turmoil benefits not just minorities but everyone.

Started by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in 2017, the National Day of Racial Healing is part of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) program. It’s a day for our community to celebrate our differences, acknowledge racial disparities, and encourage inclusiveness in these conversations.

Taking our first steps toward healing, we can address the divisive and ever-present inequities our country faces. Like an infant taking her first steps, today is the day where we as Louisvillians can begin to make a focused effort toward non-complacency.

Immigrants are a population drastically affected by policies that are inherently discriminatory based on race, ethnicity, culture, or country of birth. This can include major policies imposing immigration caps on certain countries, or school and workspaces not accommodating individuals with different beliefs, cuisine, or even attire. Of the 74 million children in American, 18 million are growing up in immigrant families.

Black men are incarcerated at a rate five times higher than white men (NAACP). Black mothers die in childbirth three times as often as white mothers (NPR). People of color also experience federal housing restrictions, decreased quality in healthcare, and wage inequality. Children of color suffer higher disciplinary rates in schools, decreased access to quality teachers and decreased access to college readiness programs (The Nation).

School systems and government agencies are beginning to take note of policies that are systemically discriminatory, including dress and hair policies (NPR & CJ). Prior to a 2014 policy change, hair policies used by defense agencies described black natural hair as “matted and unkempt.” Louisville area schools had a similar hair policy change in 2015, with students of color being able to finally wear cornrows, braids, and twists in their hair.

A study – Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) – measures the effects of stress and its correlation to chronic disease and social and emotional problems. Results showed that chronic exposure to racial inequity could cause toxic stress in individuals and communities. Today, through this study, we can measure the effects this stress has on people.

Family & Children’s Place works with clients to counter the effects of toxic stress and trauma. Pam Darnall, president and CEO says, “Trauma is recoverable, but it requires compassionate and professional help and assistance.”

There are many ways we can repair the trauma of racial injustice. We rely on minorities to share their stories of inequality but we must demand more from our allies. Self-reflection and ownership within privileged populations is required for restoring communities.

When addressing racial inequity, we have to acknowledge how we, as individuals and groups, benefit from the structural inequities in place. How have I benefited from my race, class, and gender? In what ways do I support and uphold systems that are structurally racist?

As we begin to move toward racial healing let’s celebrate and embrace our differences while acknowledging divisions in our everyday lives. Everyone is welcome in the conversation, everyone’s truth matters.

Today we ask you to share this post with your friends and family.

Visit www.dayofracialhealing.com for more information about National Day of Racial Healing. Join the conversation and follow the campaign throughout the day with #HDORH and #TRHT.

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