A U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Social Work's Role in Racial Healing

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    2 Scopus citations


    A U.S. truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) can advance racial justice by acknowledging the historical trauma tied to the United States' legacy of slavery and subsequent racism. This truth telling can facilitate a national reckoning with the past and set the stage for social transformation. This article aims to present insights into how such a U.S. TRC might work. It begins by defining TRCs and exploring their theoretical foundation of restorative justice. It connects TRCs to aspects of social work practice, including human rights-based approaches, trauma-informed care, and community practice. Then each of a TRC's core functions is analyzed: truth seeking, reconciliation, education, and engagement. Related topics of healing, accountability, and reparations are also discussed. The article draws from a diverse range of global experiences to emphasize lessons learned. It also highlights where local precedents in the United States have started this work, which can be drawn upon and developed further. The article concludes by noting the limitations of TRCs and calling on social workers to advocate for such a TRC to further racial justice.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)239-248
    Number of pages10
    JournalSocial Work (United States)
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


    • human rights
    • racial justice
    • reparations
    • trauma-informed care
    • truth and reconciliation commissions

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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