After Friday's roundtable discussion of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation process, which was keyed to the fifth anniversary of the release of the TRC report, I was asked by a member of the Boston delegation to elaborate here on some of my comments at the event, specifically my contention that the GSO TRC was hurt by the perception that it lacked independence from the survivors' group that initiated the project.
As I said at the Beloved Community Center on Friday, and as many entries under the Truth & Reconciliation tag on this blog will demonstrate, I think much good and useful work was done by our local TRC, and I also think that certain biases and fears in our community and its institutions made engagement with the process difficult for many people.
But -- and this is the point I wanted to make clear to people at the meeting who are involved in TRC efforts in their own cities across the country -- mistakes were made, and those mistakes should be understood as any future TRC panels move forward.
There was considerable pushback to my remarks on Friday, and I agreed with much of what was said, although mostly in a "yes, but..." way.
So, to the oft-repeated argument that it would have been unfair and unrealistic to expect the survivors to just disappear, yes, but nobody suggested anything of the sort -- just that a too-close relationship with the TRC by any individuals or groups with clear biases and interests would be problematic in terms of the TRC's real or perceived objectivity.
A woman from Philadelphia -- and I'm sorry I didn't get everyone's name -- said these panels and reports need to give voice to the disenfranchised. Yes, but my view is that the survivors were heard early and often in this process and in the report, so that was not a problem, while other, less-often-heard voices -- the people of Morningside Homes, for example -- were somewhat lost in the mix.
In an exchange of emails after the event, one person said that institutional Greensboro would never have bought into this process in any case. Maybe, or maybe not -- alt history is hard to fact-check -- but that's all the more reason to strip away every excuse the establishment had for keeping its distance.
Maybe it all comes down to one's expectations and goals for a Truth and Reconciliation effort. I think the key goals lie in those words, truth and reconciliation, and I agreed strongly with the remarks to the group of Eduardo Gonzalez Cueva, a veteran of the Peruvian TRC process, who stressed pragmatism over emotion and ideology.