Decatur hosts Truth Racial Healing Circle

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Decatur hosts Truth Racial Healing Circle

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On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Decatur High School hosted its first Racial Healing Circle in the media center. The meeting featured several speakers who highlighted the necessities of diversity and the importance of respectfully participating when speaking about racism. 

DHS media specialist Ifeude Hill organized and promoted the event, which was held in conjunction with Great Stories Club, an after-school book club highlighting novels that bring up race, diversity and equity problems. Junior Isho Sheikh, an active member of the club, was originally surprised about the idea, and its focus on racial and ethnic conversations.

“When I first heard of [Great Stories Club] I was shocked, because I felt like this was Decatur, and this was something totally different,” Sheikh said. “But I feel like it’s going to expose people to the concept of biases.” 

Great Stories Club, along with the Racial Healing Circle, was founded to limit discrimination in communities. Mila Konomos, an Atlanta writer and performer, addressed this idea.

“Through bringing people together from the community and listening to people and stories in the program, I think it will help bridge [the gap between communities],” Konomos said.

Nia Reed, who analyzes racial ethnic and gender disparities in Alzheimer’s disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kicked off the event with an overview of the history of race. Her goal for this event was to help people understand more about race and how to respectfully address it. Reed mentioned a five-step process to achieve this: acknowledging that racism exists, being respectful, being honest, being authentic and being open to change.

“I hope that they take away from this that racial harmony is possible, even though it doesn’t seem like it in this climate,” Reed said. “I hope it will help people focus and deal with [racial discrimination] a little bit better.” 

Reed outlined the many types of racism, including, in her opinion, the most important one, color-blindness. 

“Color-blindness is when you ignore someone’s race completely,” Reed said. During her presentation, she said that people must respect everyone regardless of race, but still acknowledge their different backgrounds. 

While the larger goal is to eventually have a community with racial equality, the Healing Circle was more of a small-scale effort in hopes to work up from there. 

“I don’t hope that everybody that comes to this event walks out and goes to marches,” Reed said. “I think that if you start with small steps, it will trickle down and help you to make better decisions in your house, in your community and at large.” 

Both Reed and Konomos have goals for the future of the Healing Circle.

“Events like this can be self-selectional. I do hope that anybody who participates in the program long-term will have the courage and also the foundation to be able to engage people who maybe wouldn’t usually participate,” Konomos said.

However, the Healing Circle is only one of the many Decatur events focused on racial harmony. On September 9, the Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR) will meet for the first time to develop further consciousness and literacy during racial conversations. Teacher Jennifer Gonzalez, who attended the Healing Circle, is excited about the future, and the overarching goal of racial harmony.

“Ifeude [Hill] took it upon herself to set up the Healing Circle,” Gonzalez said. “If one person can do all this, just think about what we can do together.”

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