TRHT Circle event inspires discussion

TRHT’s purpose was to provide a forum to share open dialogue and reflect on the dynamics of race and racism.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

On Wednesday, Apr. 25, a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) event was held at Hamline in the Law & Justice Center in West Hall. The event’s purpose, as elucidated by TRHT in an email to attendees, was to reflect on “how individuals develop relationships with others in the context of interpersonal, interracial and inter-group dynamics of race and racism.” According to Associate Dean of Students Carlos Sneed, this was the third such event held on Hamline’s campus.

“We’re going to have truth circles, to discuss the interpersonal, interracial and intergroup aspects of race and racism… in the community, on campus and throughout society,” Dr. Rebecca Neal, Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations said.

“We have the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation center here on campus, and so it is out of the work of the center [that this event is taking place].”

Through the circle event, Neal expressed a desire to accomplish increased senses of community and race consciousness and a better interpersonal understanding, both on Hamline’s campus and in the greater community.

“We are having healing circles, and the healing circles will be facilitated by persons who have trained expertise… in in-circle facilitation, and so the different outcomes, I think, in terms of the interpersonal relationships and dynamics that we depend on, on individuals and what they bring with them, their experiences that they bring with them to the circle and their level of engagement that they want to share, with themselves and with each other,” Neal said. “That, I think, would influence the interpersonal experiences.”

Neal added that the circle format was integral to TRHT’s mission, as it was one of the key aspects of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which sponsors TRHT’s campus centers.

“It’s one of the frameworks that we have to draw on, as we engage in conversations,” Neal said.

Sneed was also quick to vouch for the circle format’s benefits.

“Of course people always want more time once they get into it, because so much gets shared and discovered and unearthed,” Sneed said. “ We’re always talking about social justice and making a change in the world, and I think that this definitely espouses and moves us towards our goals.”

Biology Professor Kathy Burleson was grateful for the event.

“Circle conversations are a great way to slow down and listen deeply to others,” Burleson said.“I left feeling that more of these conversations are needed on campus for students, faculty and staff.”

Mathematics Professor Sayonita Ghosh Hajra expressed similar praises.

“I experienced mindfulness and the power of listening,” Ghosh Hajra said. “I am planning to use some of the activities in my teaching.”

While 2018 is only the first year that such events have been held at Hamline, Sneed expressed optimism about their ability to create change in the future. When asked if he wanted the program to continue in subsequent years, he replied, “Oh, definitely.”