According to Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation [TRHT] racial healing recognizes the need to acknowledge and tell the truth about past wrongs created by individual and systemic racism and address the present consequences. Before transforming systems and structures, we must first transform ourselves. To heal is to restore to wholeness; to repair damage; and to set right.
Throughout this year we will center key partnerships, change efforts, and resources around three pillars:
- REFLECT on our past. We will educate and engage about past/present racial injustices and structures of racial inequality.
- RECLAIM our present. We will identify lessons learned of the past to inform new values and norms that shift power.
- REIMAGINE our future. We will vision a more inclusive future state and design policies to produce and sustain more equitable outcomes.
This framework will guide five key institutional change efforts in government rooted in policy change and culture change, invest $5 million dollars directly in community to support place-keeping projects rooted in healing, and come together to share lessons that we can take on our continued journey toward healing.
In fall of 2020, our Office launched Together We Heal, a journey towards racial healing and transformation. As many recall, that summer our city was suffering from trauma on a number of fronts: including the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx communities and the civil unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others.
Many community leaders called for healing. OERJ responded by partnering with a variety of community groups to host healing events in community. In just 3 months, we recorded 200 healing events involving nearly 10,000 Chicagoans. We celebrated that work with a healing summit, sharing reflections through art and storytelling and building a vision for a full year of healing, one that includes cross-neighborhood dialogue and connection, public events to celebrate culture, and the City's commitment to institutional change.
Over 300 people came together that day to engage in dialogue and art and contributed to what would eventually become an Equity Statement of Principles and the outline of a year of healing.
For our Equity statement, people shared that fundamental to our definition of equity should be concepts of fairness and justice. We are proud that in the summer of 2021 we were able to finalize our Equity Statement of Principles which includes our official definition that reads “The City of Chicago defines equity as both an outcome and a process that results in fair and just access to opportunity and resources that provide everyone the ability to thrive.”
For a year of healing: We heard that people wanted cross-neighborhood dialogue and connection; public events to celebrate culture; and the City's commitment to institutional change. So, this year we are proud to bring those ideas to life and declare 2022 the Year of Healing.
Apply to the $5 million creative placekeeping grants – The Office of Equity and Racial Justice is partnering with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to grant $5M to creative placekeeping projects that use community engagement and arts in a transformative way to promote racial healing, cultural awareness, neighborhood vibrancy, and community building. Examples include murals, sculptures, walking or bike tours, pop-up galleries, street festivals, story circles, reimaginations of vacant lots/buildings. Stay tuned for more information to be announced in spring 2022.
Attend a Year of Healing 2022 event – Stay tuned for our events page that will list our Year of Healing 2022 signature events, including our summit in September 2022, the events from our creative placemaking grantees, and events from City departments (e.g. Chicago Public Libraries)
Host your own event – partner with neighbors, friends, or colleagues to design and host an event that does one of the following:
- Promote Dialogue – lead conversations to build understanding and empathy (e.g. group discussion).
- Encourage Collaboration – engage in activities that bring people together (in accordance with public health orders/guidance) to connect, act together on a project or idea (e.g. community service/action)
- Facilitate Learning – lead activities designed to build or enhance knowledge (e.g. book club, educational event/training)
- Seed Connections – organize racial healing circles, peace circles or restorative justice activities
Note: This framework is part of the Healing Illinois initiative.
Under the leadership of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the City of Chicago established an Office of Equity & Racial Justice (OERJ) in 2019, and hired its first Chief Equity Officer, Candace Moore. Candace and her team are tasked with examining systemic racism that exists in Chicago – particularly within City government operations – and developing policies to help correct those racial disparities.
The Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ) seeks to achieve equity in the city’s service delivery, decision-making, and resource distribution. We will do this by supporting City departments in normalizing concepts of racial equity, organizing staff to work together for transformational change, and operationalizing new practices, policies and procedures that result in more fair and just outcomes.
OERJ oversees the development, coordination, and administration of racial and social equity policies and practices for the City of Chicago. This includes working to change policies and practices in city government through engaging in training and support of city staff, cultivating engagement between city stakeholders and communities of color, and integrating racial equity analysis and accountability into decision-making processes. Below are the major categories:
- Support city departments in developing resources and strategies to infuse racial equity work into departments' workstreams on a permanent basis.
- Integrate racial equity analysis in major policies and initiatives generating from the Mayor’s Office.
- Cultivate civic engagement, participation, and access amongst communities of color and those historically disconnected from City government.
- Build an infrastructure for tracking progress, measuring impact, and developing responsive and meaningful solutions.