Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative (SJREC): Transforming from the Inside Out

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pair these words with these from Robert A. F. Thurman, “Imagine a culture in which everything is geared toward helping all individuals become the best human beings they can be; in which individuals are driven to devoting their lives to becoming enlightened by the natural flood of compassion for others that arises from their wisdom.”

These words reflect the vision and mission of Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative: Transforming from the Inside Out and the transformative work that Sophia Institute stands for.

Sophia Institute has been at work for 16 years as convener, thought leader, and also spiritual leader, working for transformative change, for a more just, sustainable, and conscious world. Sophia means Divine Wisdom in the ancient Greek and embodies the Feminine.

The Sophia Institute’s vision and mission is centered on cultivating the rise of the Feminine, and wisdom, in the hearts of women and men, fostering the best in the human potential, for a more just and egalitarian world, one that is transformed from power over to power with, from domination to collaboration and partnership.

This has been an extraordinary time for us in Charleston, with so much being catalyzed, and out of the horrific tragedy of Mother Emanuel and the Grace that filled our city, more and more of us have begun to realize that we don’t want to return to “comfortable silence”, as President Obama said in his eulogy for Rev. Pinckney, and that we want to join forces, roll up our sleeves, and do the work for social justice and racial equity that needs to be done and with an approach that is guided by the wisdom of our hearts, from the inside out.  

We feel the eyes of the country still on us.

One of the places where the injustices of slavery began in our county, like Charleston, is a city where the healing work needs to begin.  

The Sophia Institute has been a convener these 16 years around transforming our lives and transforming our world.  We see our role as convener for this new work, convening the silos, the stakeholders and initiatives, already at work, for collective impact, to amplify, collaborate, and connect the good work of many, with an approach that is wisdom-based. And to fill in the gaps where work is not being done – that is work around truth, healing, and transformation.  

This work needs to be done collaboratively and with many diverse people, diverse in race, gender, and age. We have formed a Racial Justice Council and Leadership Team to develop, advise, and carry this work out into the community together with Engagement Partners to further cascade the work throughout our community and potentially around the country.

Mission, Vision, and Goals 

Our History: We began with Home Salons with women in the winter of 2016 – deep and profound conversations and out of that came the clarity that we were ready to move into action.  The women recommended the men, men who were similarly committed to transformative change and to an inside out approach.  Our Council grew out of these salons with meetings in March, June, and November 2016.  The Council is populating our committees which are led by the Leadership Team. We have gone through the chartering process to put legs under our work and to make a plan for action.  

Our Framework: We recognize the urgent need for systemic change around racial justice in Charleston. We are cognizant of the widely shared feeling that conversation is not enough. In creating the Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative Council, The Sophia Institute seeks to convene and align respective goals, resources, and audiences to maximize collective impact for Social Justice and Racial Equity.

For the purposes of our work, we define Social Justice as a proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes, and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts, and outcomes for ALL, regardless of race, community and power.  

We recognize Racial Equity creates a system that addresses structural racism such that everyone can realize their highest potential and no one is advantaged or disadvantaged based on their race or ethnicity.

The Inside Out approach creates safe spaces for pause, reflection, digging deep, leaning in and leading forward to co-create intimacy and transformational and social change.  Growing authentic influence…creating enduring value together. Breakthrough planning and action that leads to sustainable transformational and societal change.

Proposed Structure:

  • Leadership Team (8): Charter the infrastructure and guide the initiative
  • Racial Justice Council (35+): Unify decisions and lead the initiative and programs and events
  • Engagement Partners (40 +): Help inform and promote the initiatives and attend programs and events
  • Greater Charleston Leadership (300 +): Attend programs and events and cascade initiatives.

 Social Justice, Racial Equity full Council and Leadership Team