Being Heard Brings HealingEmail This Share This Tweet This
Rev. Steve Miller, Project Director and Founder of US-CLO
How do we solve a problem if virtually no one is working on it?
God calls His people to the work.
I heard God’s call on my life to work racial reconciliation nearly twenty years ago sitting in a classroom at the University of Houston. Then a decade later, in 2009, God led me to the work while my family was living in Bastrop, Texas. Through many challenging circumstances, I learned that healing happens by hearing, recording and sharing individual experiences of institutionalized racism. We record personal interviews for the HBCU Truth and Reconciliation Oral History Project, and they form the very heart of our work at Unites States Christian Leadership Organization (US-CLO). With support from TMF Grants Ministry, we will grow the reach and impact of our work in 2019.
US-CLO employs the biblical account in Exodus to demonstrate God’s activation of compassion and healing from being heard. I believe our work through US-CLO will serve as a healing source, which the United States and its current racial environment so desperately need. People listen to stories when they can’t hear facts and figures. We are using personal stories in a creative way to facilitate “Church-led” and “Church-enabled” communication among all people.
For the last several years, our historically black colleges and universities (or HBCUs) have been in partnerships with community churches and others to bring personal narratives of hurt caused by racism out of private to spark healing at the individual level through having stories heard. Being heard validates their experiences and at the same time forms growing archive of stories that informs academic research. We are also creating a cadre of young professionals who are skilled in doing racial reconciliation work. As we continue, we are ushering in a contemporary civil rights movement rooted in love, relationships, and – most profoundly – a new conversation with the power to change hearts, and then minds.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. These Oral History Projects and interventions reconnect head and heart, bring together academia and religious instructions (particularly HBCUs and the black church), and release story and narrative as tools for individual level healing and wider reconciliation. Individuals’ stories are being archived at the Baylor University Center for Oral History, and they don’t sit on a shelf. US-CLO is working with Baylor University Press on three books for academic, religious and popular audiences. Every story contributes to the emerging field of “critical race work” and to a growing body of evidence and experience to counter disbelief. Our edited videos are shared online with pastors and beyond as empathy-building tools.
Our individuals who share their stories begin to heal from their trauma. Sharing their stories helps them to exhale and release the pain they’ve been carrying, making room for hope. And the other part of healing comes from moving, as you gain more agency and control over your own healing. Our narratives help form people who are strong and healthy enough to work on their own freedom and lead civil society to take meaningful actions, too.
In 2019, with support from partners in ministry including TMF, we will continue to grow our Truth and Reconciliation Oral History Projects to harness personal narrative as a force for healing, first at the individual level and then at the systemic level by rekindling empathy. On this new footing, a new civil rights approach can help our national conversation around race get unstuck. Changed hearts make many laws unnecessary. There are many laws written on the books; now we are called to write them on our hearts.
About the author: Steve Miller is the author of a comprehensive multi-year Christian-oriented and Christ-centered spiritual, educational, operational, philosophical, and intellectual blueprint to advance racial reconciliation through friendship. He is a husband of 18 years and a father of two. He holds a B.S. in Political Science from Texas A&M University; a B.S. in Finance from the University of Houston; a Master’s in Commercial Real Estate Development through the Graduate School of Finance at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University; and a Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
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