Letter of Gratitude to TRHT Chicago Community

Letter of Gratitude to TRHT Chicago Community

Dear TRHT Chicago Community,

With a heart full of gratitude, I share the news that my season as the Executive Director of TRHT Chicago has concluded. The journey we’ve shared has been nothing short of miraculous, and I want to express my deepest thanks to each and every one of you who has committed to healing yourself and who have helped others in our city heal.

Now is my time to reflect and rest. I am reminded of the blessings and dreams passed down through my Abuelas, shaping us into the healers we are today. Our ancestors, in their wisdom, guided us to this work and nurtured a space for us to come together. In this community, we have remembered the true essence of who we are – healers healing on a shared path of love, transformation, and joy!

It has been an incredible journey that started in 2019, when I was hired as the inaugural executive director, with 1 year of funding and less than 10 practitioners. Over the last four and a half years, we have achieved remarkable milestones – touching the hearts and minds of almost ten thousand people, empowering over four hundred racial healing practitioners, and mobilizing over four million dollars while increasing the endowment to almost $1.5M. All in service to strengthen our community’s capacity for racial healing and transformation. The impact we’ve made is evident in the spaces we’ve created for repair, restoration, and transformation by individuals, communities, and organizations.

The vision I shared with the leadership advisory council of TRHT, was that we will be successful when we bring together healers, curanderas, racial equity practitioners, storytellers, circle keepers, everyone that have been healing in our hoods for years and create the space to come together and increase our collective capacity for transformation using Dr. Gail Christopher’s teachings. Our first gathering in the winter of 2019, was the first step of bringing over 100 hood and professional healers together. The TRHT framework provided us with a strategy to go deeper into a healing and equity practice and connect TRHT with existing efforts in our communities. It also made it possible to identify similar efforts across communities and sectors, birthing the Solidarity Circles and Truth, Healing and Equity Fellowship and Racial Healing Certification program at City Colleges of Chicago.

You, each one of you, are the vessels of this movement, and I am forever grateful for the love, peace, and purpose you gave me and our TRHT community. The friendships, love, solidaruty and weight we lifted from thousands of people during the lethal and isolating pandemic was life changing. Your commitment to being there for others and providing space for us to grieve the murders of our people was heroic. We answered the call of BIPOC employees in organizations that were sometimes toxic and created affinity spaces where ones did not exist. Oftentimes this created a bond between people that exists to this day. Our ability to respond, to hold space and to build as our community was under racist attacks deserves recognition. It will be a testament to what we know- that we are made for these times. I am confident that our bond will endure, and together we will continue to build, love, and find joy in a world that challenges us to conform to hierarchies, be silent, and forget our true selves.

I cannot express this enough, I extend my deepest appreciation for the profound impact you have had on my life and the lives of countless others. Let us carry forward the torch of love, trust, and healing that Dr. Gail Christopher entrusted us into the next chapter of our journey. It’s up to us, the hundreds of racial healing practitioners, to continue our practice of storytelling, sharing a future without hierarchies and binaries, of not accepting business as usual and expanding our circle of trust building. No one knows that better than we do, that this is where the magic happens. Our capacity to heal and transform is only as strong as its practitioners, their leadership, and their practice. This is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our work. I leave proud, grateful, and blessed.

My next step is to take my son, Tizoc, to a healing retreat in our motherland and continue to teach him my practices. I’m looking forward to the next cycle of our journey together upon my return as a healing practitioner, friend, and co-conspirator. If you would like to stay in community with me, please fill this out and I will send you updates. I am ready to step firmly into what I know is my destiny. Together, we will continue to build our collective work that has allowed us to reshape the narrative of healing and solidarity in Chicago.

With love and gratitude,
Jose A. Rico
Founding Executive Director TRHT Chicago

Noticias Telemundo presents Foro Contra el Racismo

Noticias Telemundo presents Foro Contra el Racismo

On Tuesday, in New Orleans, LA, Telemundo held its first Foro Contra el Racismo – a town hall-style National Day of Racial Healing conversation about how to work toward an equitable society free of racial divisions. 

The event was moderated by Telemundo’s Johana Suárez, news anchor, and Lori Montenegro, Washington bureau chief, and featured artistic performances, videos profiling organizations working on racial healing, and two panel discussions.

Following a performance by the local Garifuna band Grupo Yurumeina, the first panel kicked off with a conversation about perceptions of racism in the Latino community. Tanya Katerí Hernández, Fordham law professor and author of “Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality,” talked about the importance of Latinos recognizing shared experiences with African Americans in terms of racism. José Rico, executive director of the Commission for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Greater Chicago (TRHT), called on fellow Latinos to fight racism against other communities as well as their own. 

Asked about how one begins the fight against racism at home, Leticia Casildo, co-founder and executive director of Families United in Action, emphasized the importance of intentional conversations, including at the dinner table, so that one’s children know how to deal with issues related to racism.

Marking the midpoint of the evening, poet Juan Delgado was brought to the audience by video, powerfully reciting – for more than four minutes – Cuando el Silencio Habla, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Returning to the forum, the second panel delved into manifestations of systemic racism, especially in immigration and criminal justice. 

Rafaela Uribe, associate counsel for Latino Justice’s racial justice project said her organization is increasing its focus on some of the populations most affected by systemic racism.

“We need to talk more about the issues faced by the most marginalized people within the Latino community – Afro-Latino people, Indigenous people,” she said. “It is a double challenge they face when dealing with these racist systems.”

Responding to a question from the audience about how to combat systemic racism that harms immigrants and Indigenous people, Héctor Sánchez-Flores, executive director of the National Compadres Network, called for unification across communities to fight systemic racism. He said that improving conditions for families  of a particular group – immigrants, for example – benefits the rest of us and demonstrates to our children that we have things in common.  

Moderator Lori Montenegro agreed, adding the powerful example of how Latinos and African Americans marched together after the murder of George Floyd. 

Echoing this sentiment, at the close of the panel, Uribe quoted Fannie Lou Hamer, saying, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free”.  Sánchez-Flores said that the young people in the audience can be teachers of the change we want to see. Finally, Elizabeth Garcia, an activist and racial healing practitioner in association with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, said:

“Today this learning began, and it does not end today; each person continues learning every day, and opening the heart and mind to see what is in front of them.” 

Finally, WKKF Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Carlos Rangel closed out the forum by extending an invitation from the foundation to establish ties of solidarity between communities, and to find ways to be allies with those who are not like ourselves, with the support of conversation guides and action kits WKKF created and made accessible for free at sanacionracial.org

Read the full article on EveryChildThrives.com

Segregation, Disinvestment Impact Neighborhood Violence, Community Leader Says

Segregation, Disinvestment Impact Neighborhood Violence, Community Leader Says

Everything about one’s experience of living in Chicago can be traced back to segregation and race, according to community leader José Rico, executive director of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Chicago.

“As I was going downtown with my friends, you could actually see the rest of the city where you saw [people from different cultures] being together in one place,” Rico said. “And then on the way back home on the train, you start to realize how different our communities are. So, it was really an eye opener to see how my community was laid out and designed but also the amenities and resources given to those around the Loop and in the North Side compared to my neighborhood in Little Village.”

Rico said he believes the city’s long history of segregation contributed to community violence and other disparities that stem from the lack of socioeconomic resources.

“Chicago is the largest metropolitan area with the inequities of any city in the country,” Rico said. “So, if you live in Little Village and the Back of the Yards, your life expectancy is lower, your earning power is lower and your ability to have educational attainment is lower simply because of the ZIP code you live in.”

Rico joined “Chicago Tonight” to speak more on the root cause of segregation and the detrimental impact segregation has on communities of color.


Faith and community leaders host the first in a series of citywide healing circles in Woodlawn

Faith and community leaders host the first in a series of citywide healing circles in Woodlawn

by Tonia Hill
December 13, 2023

On Dec. 9, Mayor Brandon Johnson, faith and community leaders gathered at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn for the first in a series of solidarity breakfasts to build unity with new arrivals and long-time Chicago residents. Photo by Alexander Gouletas for The TRiiBE®

Mayor Brandon Johnson, faith leaders, community members and new arrivals gathered on the South Side Dec. 9 for the first in a series of mayoral solidarity breakfasts that will be hosted citywide. Johnson also shared his administration’s intention to work alongside faith leaders and community organizations to foster ongoing conversations with long-time city residents and new Chicagoans to find common ground and build unity between each group. 

Thousands of migrants have arrived in Chicago from Ukraine, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East since 2022. However, the influx of more than 20,000 Venezuelan migrants since August 2022 has unearthed pre-existing tensions between Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities

Some Black residents feel purposefully left out of the city’s decision-making process when it was decided to place temporary shelters for migrants in predominately Black neighborhoods, such as South Shore and Woodlawn, parts of Chicago that experienced decades of neglect and disinvestment. 

“I’ve been saying this from the very beginning: investing in the people and communities of Chicago while also responding to the needs of the new arrivals is not an either-or situation,” Johnson said. “It’s  both, and we take care of our communities while also taking care of those who are seeking asylum.” 

The Johnson administration’s newest initiative comes on the heels of two decisions: One, to axe a plan to build migrant tent camps in Brighton Park and Morgan Park; and two, creating plus the Unity Initiative, a network of churches and faith-based organizations that will work in tandem to shelter migrants sleeping at Chicago police stations and O’Hare International Airport. 

Johnson, Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), faith leaders, community stakeholders, migrants and volunteers convened at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn for the event. In addition to breaking bread, attendees participated in hour-long racial healing circles facilitated by peace circle practitioners from Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT). The circles are designed to unify participants across race, gender and socioeconomic status. Spanish translators were also present to guide migrants through the morning.

Peace circle practitioners and participants used musical instruments, such as hand drums and maracas, to ground the conversation before diving into a series of prompts designed to facilitate meaningful discussions between participants.

A racial healing circle is a convening of souls who come together and actually take time to our commonality to see our humaneness to see ourselves in one another,” said Pilar Audain, associate director at TRHT. 

TRHT is a community organization that centers on planning for and bringing about transformational and sustainable change and addressing the historic and contemporary effects of racism. 

Before splitting into groups for racial healing circles, attendees were introduced to Audain and a team of young people who prayed, honored the ancestors and offered words of encouragement to the room. They heard remarks from Johnson, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Phelps, senior pastor at Concord MB Church, TRHT director Josè Rico, Daniel Ash, president of the Field Foundation and Andrea Sáenz, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust. 

“We want to serve as an example or a model for other churches and pastors. I think this is what all churches and pastors should be doing,” Phelps said. “If every church and every pastor did that, we wouldn’t be as divided on this issue. I think that there’s enough wealth, love and compassion to not only welcome the migrants but also better serve the African-American community.”

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Racial Healing Circle with Obama

Racial Healing Circle with Obama

November 30, 2021

President and Mrs. Obama were back in Chicago to show some holiday gratitude to the people and programs taking on some of the biggest issues in the community we call home. It was an opportunity to hear what’s working, and how we can provide even more support.

44 Hours With the Obamas

From heartfelt conversations with community leaders and medical workers, to the infectious optimism of neighborhood students, to the fun of hoops and a holiday toy drop, it was an inspiring few days in Chicago.

President and Mrs. Obama drop off holiday gifts to patients in the lobby of the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL on December 3, 2021.

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