I turned on my computer this morning, checked my e-mails, read Doonesbury, and then began perusing a few news sites; a ritual I follow pretty much every day. When I got to CNN.com I was stunned by two faces at the top of the page. My friends Betty and Phoebe Kilby were smiling out at me–and the whole wide world.
Phoebe’s ancestors were once owned by Betty’s ancestors. Their story, “When kin of slaves and owner meet” is both inspiring and important. What Betty and Phoebe have done is to model what healing from traumatic historic damage can look like.
I met Betty and Phoebe through Coming to the Table, the program I’ve participated in since early 2006. The descendants of both the enslaved and the enslavers gather together to consider the history of enslavement and racism that continue to impact all of us today. We commit to connecting; to being in relationship with each other. We take action together in communities, at conferences, online, and with other individuals to highlight the importance of acknowledging the damage. And we’re working together to develop a model of healing that can be utilized by others who want to finally deal with the lingering trauma that continues to impact all of us today, whether we are aware of it or not. As Susan Hutchison, one of the founders of Coming to the Table says in the article,
We are all still impacted by this history. “There are still big racial gaps — in access to education, jobs, health care, just to name a few. All of us, all our communities, have stories about race. Coming to the Table tries to create a safe space for those stories to come out, so we can learn about each other and move forward together.
As you read the article I encourage you to also check out some of the comments below the story. They run the gamut from gratitude that these issues are being prominently told to charges of race-baiting on the part of CNN. I find the comments very useful in that they show just how wide the gaps are in our recognition of how much race continues to impact our nation. They highlight the need for Coming to the Table.
UPDATE: I learned this evening that this story is the “most emailed link” from CNN.com today. According to the author of the story, Wayne Drash, it was also the most-read story of the day with 600,000 views. Over the past few years we’ve found that many, many people would like to find ways to face the past, to deal with present-day inequities and injustice and search for models of healing. Coming to the Table is a good place to begin.