What if all our children could live in a just, equitable world?
By: Isaiah M. Oliver
President and CEO
Community Foundation of Greater Flint
My son is eight-months old. He knows no cultural or color difference. He doesn’t place a hierarchy on the humans with whom he interacts. He smiles at everyone and fears no one. He is pure love — living life with an open heart and open mind. The world my son sees is just and equitable.
My daughter is nine-years-old. She understands that people live in different skin. She interacts with her peers but knows there are hurts in the world. She has seen injustice in films, in school, and on the playground. She is cautious with her words and is not sure if she can trust everyone. My daughter hopes to live in a just, equitable world.
Today, the day after we celebrate the historic blessing of Martin Luther King, Jr., we acknowledge National Day of Racial Healing. Racial healing is not only important, it is essential. Healing is at the heart of racial equity.
Racial healing is a process and a tool that can facilitate trust and build authentic relationships. Through healing conversations we can bridge divides created by real and perceived differences, like the ones my daughter is starting to notice, but that my son does not yet see. Deepening relationships within and across racial groups is an essential first step of embracing equity.
For my children to experience a just, equitable world, we must come together to heal. We must explore and unravel the deeply held racial biases of the past — the biases that hold us back from unleashing our collective energy and potential.
At the Community Foundation of Greater Flint we’re putting equity at the center of our work. As a staff we’ve begun an equity journey by first getting to know each other better. Through a series of staff meetings we have built stronger relationships, honored agreed upon ways of interacting with each other, and are growing our relationships with an open heart and open mind.
We continue to engage people in racial healing circles and community-based problem solving. Through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation we have established a permanently endowed fund to support programs that facilitate leadership, strengthen organizations, and provide activities that positively impact Flint’s equity journey.
Mostly we find ourselves asking: What if all our children could live in a just, equitable world? I mean all our children … not just infants like my Isaiah, but nine-year-olds like my Zaiah too. What if?