My Experience with Racial Healing Circles

I attended a Truth & Racial Healing Circle in August 2020, at the height of demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. At that time, the raw feelings were fresh. The circle was a time for me to listen to the experiences of my Black neighbors with not just sympathy or even empathy, but with a true sense of the injustice, they experience every day.

In the circle, I felt discomfort in recognizing examples of ways that I, a well-meaning white woman, am complicit in upholding systems of white supremacy. My mental framework, my thought processes, and conditioning throughout my entire life all contribute to a system where (among countless other injustices,) police feel emboldened to murder Black people without any consequences. 

It doesn’t feel great to confront that truth within oneself. However, it’s necessary to face this truth if I expect my actions to align with my values. The truth and racial healing circle was an opportunity to hear and believe the truth of other peoples’ lived experiences that are so different from my own. It’s like a fog lifting. 

Above all, my takeaway from the circle was that my intentions are less important than my impact in tearing down systems of white supremacy. I don’t have to be “not a racist, therefore good,” or “a racist, therefore bad.” Racial injustice is a system, and the only work that matters is dismantling it.

What are Racial Healing Circles?

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. 

The effects of racism are evident in the social, economic, and government policies all around us and the places in which we live, learn, work and play. People experience these effects when they take their children to school when they apply for jobs when they try to rent or buy a home, when they shop when they interact with the police, and more. 

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.” 

YMCA of Austin addresses TRHT by hosting listening, interactive sessions guided by expert, professional facilitators in YMCA spaces. These gatherings are hosted in any of our YMCA Centers, centered in eight (8) locations in the Austin Area, with the inaugural sessions taking place at our TownLake Center.

Please continue your support of our vital work such as our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Circles. Whether you donate, attend a fitness center, or volunteer to support out-of-school time programming (or do all of these!), your support allows our incredibly talented professional team to provide the best programs our community deserves and reach those who need us most. Together we have the power to do so much more. We invite you to take genuine action today. 

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Roxanne Rathge
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to

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