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First, Unlearn

Lucy Mayo

We at Demos are acutely aware of, and actively fighting against, the racist policies, beliefs, political tactics and narratives that have created and deepened the racial divide in our country. On this third annual National Day of Racial Healing*, we are reflecting on the ways in which we can unite to heal the wounds of racial division and the centuries of trauma they have caused for people of color.

In a country founded on a belief in racial hierarchy, the work to heal our nation’s racial wounds will take deliberate healing, unlearning and relearning. This complete re-envisioning of our nation will require more than deep internal reflection. It will take the will of people bold enough to confront and combat racist discourse. It will take people with determination and skills to take on racist policies. It will take the leadership of people and organizations who are unafraid to do the hard, humble work of creating truly multiracial communities and coalitions that fully live our American values.

Demos is committed to this transformative racial equity work not just today, on this Day of Racial Healing, but every day. Under former Demos President Heather McGhee, and under the continued leadership of our new President, K. Sabeel Rahman, we have been working to transform Demos from a white-centric organization to a multiracial organization that holds advancing racial equity at its core. In less than 4 years, this comprehensive, purposeful process of organizational change—which has involved every staff member and every body of work—has shifted Demos to a race-forward, majority person-of-color organization. The transformation has made our strategies sharper, our research more insightful, our litigation more powerful, and our coalitions stronger. 

While our journey continues, we have learned some valuable lessons along the way that we hope will be helpful to individuals and organizations who seek to achieve similar transformations. Our new report, Demos’ Racial Equity Transformation, captures the major components of our organizational transformation.

Join us in our commitment to truth, racial healing and transformation. We must take action today and every day to stop the racist rhetoric, division and bias so we can build a more equitable and just society.

*The National Day of Racial Healing is a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation effort – a national, community-based process of transformative, sustainable change, addressing the historic and contemporary effects of racism.