Terry Keleher, coordinator of the Applied Research Center’s Racial Justice Leadership Action Network and a blogger for RaceWire, was a guest this week on WBAI-New York’s ‘Talk Back!’ with host Hugh Hamilton. Terry discussed Racial Equity Impact Assessments and Truth and Reconciliations Commissions, which he recently wrote about in an article for Yes! Magazine, “Jump Starting Racial Justice.” You can hear a recording of the broadcast here (direct mp3 link); Terry’s 45-minute interview and Q&A starts halfway through, three minutes past the first hour. Definitely recommended listening. Below is Hamilton’s lead-in to the show, discussing the disclaimer attached to the Senate’s recent formal apology for slavery:
Now that the United States Senate has formally apologized for centuries of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, and a similar, non-binding resolution is pending in the House of Representatives, many African Americans are wondering: what’s next? A controversial disclaimer appended to the apology makes clear that nothing in the resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States, or serves as a settlement of any such claim. In other words, don’t even think about using this apology as an argument for reparations! But might this apology serve as a spring board for jump-starting a national conversation on racial justice? Long before the Senate adopted the measure this month, racial-justice advocates like Terry Keleher, Midwest Director of the Applied Research Center, have been arguing in favor of a public truth and reconciliation process like the one made famous in South Africa, together with a process of “proactive racial impact planning and analysis” now widely employed in the United Kingdom. According to Keleher, “if the United States were to establish an officially sanctioned process for acknowledging our racialized history, it could help build deep understanding across communities and reveal new, transformative possibilities.” And to complement the retrospective focus of a national truth commission, the United States might also borrow from Britain a model known as the “Race Equality Duty,” through which government undertakes a far-reaching commitment and legal responsibility to eliminate discrimination, promote racial equality and foster good race relations.