The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center Alliance at Loyola Marymount University will foreground the importance of cultivating a sense of belonging among all members of the LMU community. Its first in-person Story Circle, which will serve as the official launch of the TRHT Center Alliance, “Transforming through Dialogue,” will be Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, at noon in St. Robert’s Auditorium. RSVP here, as space is limited.
A Story Circle is a lightly facilitated dialogue process that promotes deep engagement and connection across all lines of difference. It utilizes the Rx Racial Healing Circle methodology championed by the TRHT national network. More than 100 faculty, staff, and students have experienced virtual Story Circles at LMU since the university was awarded a TRHT center last October. Nearly 30 faculty, staff, and students have been trained to facilitate them, so far.
“This Story Circle practice has the potential to transform campus climate and culture by fostering authentic relationships and opportunities to connect across all lines of difference,” said Ariane White, Ed.D., the center’s inaugural director. “This relational work serves as an essential foundation for more sweeping institutional and systemic change, as it is through these relationships that we come to understand the impact of systems on real people and can develop a shared understanding of what needs to change and how to make that happen.”
TRHT seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism – the main one being the belief in a “hierarchy of human value.” At LMU, this sense recalls the counsel of Greg Boyle, S.J., to “imagine a circle, then imagine no one outside that circle.”
The TRHT framework is multifaceted, with an emphasis on racial healing and relationship building. The framework posits that by prioritizing the cultivation of authentic, trusting relationships, it will then be possible to shift entrenched narratives that undergird injustices, especially in areas such as legal and economic systems, as well as other structures that perpetuate separation on a societal level.
“The Story Circle practice is one strategy among the myriad ways of operationalizing LMU’s commitment to anti-racism, said White. “It signals that it is no longer acceptable to continue with business as usual. We must prioritize taking the time to connect with each other, to understand each other’s needs, and to co-create new norms that are grounded in a sustained commitment to equity.”
LMU joined the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ TRHT program in October 2021. TRHT, which began as a strategic initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2017, aims to “prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to break down racial hierarchies and dismantle the belief in the hierarchy of human value.” There are currently 48 institutions hosting TRHT campus centers in the United States.
“The group that initiated the proposal for LMU to have a TRHT center does not intend for it to operate as a stand-alone center,” said White. “This is why it we called it an Alliance. We aim to connect and amplify the great work happening in so many areas across campus so that our collective efforts can be more coordinated and have a greater impact.”
Individuals and groups interested in collaborating with the TRHT Center Alliance at LMU are encouraged to contact White directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Story Circles can be tailored to meet the needs of specific groups and contexts. Other ideas for collaboration related to any aspect of the TRHT framework are also welcome.