What is a Racial Healing Circle?

Racial Healing Circles provide a safe and respectful environment for diverse groups of people to use personal narratives to promote self-reflection, empathy, and collective healing.  Healing Circles explore the historic and contemporary underlying racial issues impacting a community and encourages participants to take both responsibility and actions for correcting these issues.

Yes…but what is a Racial Healing Circle?

It is a session consisting of both group interactions and smaller, more intimate conversations between two participants. The experience relies on intentional listening. It may be an emotional  or even transformational experience for participants, as conversations can unearth truths and conscious and unconscious biases. It’s designed to raise the awareness, consciousness, compassion and empathy among those who participate. 

What do you mean by healing in this context?

When your story is honored without judgement and shame, it opens the door to self acceptance. We often don’t share our stories or full selves for fear of judgement from others. When given an opportunity to share our story and maintain connection, not only our story but our “selves” are honored and accepted. 

How does this specifically address race?

RHC provides an opportunity for people to share how their humanity has either been affirmed or denied based upon the color of their skin.  The racial piece comes up in our storytelling and highlights our common humanity with the purpose of ending the false belief in the hierarchy of human value based on skin pigmentation.

How is a Racial Healing Circle going to fix anything?

It’s not. Racial healing circles are designed to focus on stories that affirm our common humanity rather than on solving a problem.  This is one of many tools we are using to address equity and inclusion on our campus.  

How can I participate? 

The Office of Institutional Equity works with campus partners to host Racial Healing Circle.  We call these opportunities on-ramps and they’re intended to give staff, faculty, and students the opportunity to experience a healing circle.  Check out our on-ramps [link] page for a list of sessions being offered. 

How long is a healing circle?

Circles are typically two hours in length and we ask that you register only if you can attend the entire session. 

Is this a one time thing?

No.  Like most things that are good for you, the beauty of these circles is that the more active and frequent you participate in them, the better they work.  We know that a lot of diversity initiatives fail not because they are bad ideas but because of a lack of commitment.  The more you go and the more open you are, the more impactful it is.