In 2013, racial equity practitioners from across Mississippi began convening quarterly to answer a series of questions:
i) is Mississippi ready to advance racial equity;
ii) how can a community of racial equity practitioners serve as a nucleus to advance racial equity in Mississippi;
iii) why is racial healing the necessary starting point for dismantling racist structures and advancing racial equity;
v) what are the barriers and other essential factors in the way of meaningfully advancing racial equity in Mississippi;
vi) how can a diffuse group of racial equity practitioners own the responsibilities and opportunities to advance racial healing and equity in Mississippi; and
vii) what would a Mississippi Racial Equity Community of Practice (RECoP) look like and do to advance racial healing and equity in our state?
Practitioners established that our sustained commitment to jointly learn about and advance racial equity in Mississippi made our organization a RECoP. Furthermore, we determined that in Mississippi there were important pockets of dedicated individuals and organizations communicating and collaborating across racial lines more effectively than ever before. Simultaneously, however, we noted that national and local atrocities, conflicts, and politics have generally resulted in a polarization of race-based perspectives in Mississippi not seen since the civil rights era of the 1960s.
The disconnect between the intimate interracial interactions and trust of some individuals in Mississippi and the heightened national, state, and local polarization of politics, policy, and social viewpoints suggest that Mississippi requires and is ripe for an organized and thoughtful effort to advance racial equity. Therefore, we concluded that “now” is the most appropriate time for a Mississippi RECoP to accept the responsibility for advancing racial equity and dismantling racist structures in Mississippi.