A Path to Racial Healing

by Claire Cox-Woodlief, Ally to BIPOC
Latercha McKnight, de-escalator of provocative conversations

Latercha McKnight and Claire Cox-Woodlief began working together in 2017 with the determination of discussing racial reconciliation. Their philosophy is to listen first and give everyone a voice without judgment. 

How did we get here and where do we desire to go from here? 

The hardest step in the healing process is coming to the table. There is an art and skill to bringing about real conversation, and that is where Latercha and Claire begin. They offer a  facilitated discussion that helps to bring unanswered questions to light. They have created a crucial space for the person(s) that is causing the issue not to feel condemned and the victim(s) not to feel marginalized.

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As a leading scientist in the corporate pharmaceutical world for the past 20+ years, Latercha McKnight has no shortage of experience in navigating the intricacies required of her being a black female within a white male dominated industry. She is the anomaly – and she has decided to embrace it.

Her ability to adapt as a minority in a majority setting, Latercha has mastered the techniques necessary to de-escalate provocative conversations. By working hard to confront the chasm between her minority experience and that of the bulk of the population, she has become dedicated to the art of “talking about it”.

Her gifts of speaking can be attributed to the fact that she is also a certified Lay Speaker in the Methodist Church. Wilson Temple United Methodist Church is an historically African American church. In fact, it is the only black church in a predominantly white area of Raleigh, NC. Involved in both speaking and community outreach on several different boards in the church community, she is called upon as an expert at bridging these gaps within the community at large.

This led to her collaboration with Claire Cox-Woodlief. In 2017, Latercha and Claire formed an intentional relationship based on discussing race relations. Their perseverance at uncovering the uncomfortable has fostered a friendship and a skill as unique as their backgrounds. For the past 3 years they have led many workshops on racial reconciliation. The success of these workshops is largely due to the safe space they create for their participants; a space dedicated to being able to ask each other difficult questions – and hear equally difficult answers. Together, they are the perfect formula to an imperfect subject.

Claire Cox-Woodlief believes that to grow closer to God, we must grow closer to one another. We are called to the life-long work of self-reflection and discovery and our collective lives will be enriched as we build honest and trustworthy relationships with people from other cultures.  We are called to cultural humility and ALL of God’s people will benefit as we live into the beloved community.

As people of faith we are also called to be people of peace and justice and to be active in the ministry of reconciliation.

Throughout her participation in the Two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation, God made it clear to Claire that she was being called to a new thing. Surrounding herself with people who are not afraid to learn, grow, and challenge the status quo she has learned to practice and appreciate some of the spiritual disciplines she has been exposed to. Most important of which is striving to listen attentively.     

Her Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Reconciliation work has motivated her to develop authentic relationships with a growing number of people of color. These relationships have helped her gain a better understanding of how we are all formed by our cultural identities and life experiences. 

Claire has been on a journey to increase her intercultural competence with a goal towards cultural humility, and she has become passionate about wanting to help others learn and grow in this area as well. 

Through both professional training and “boots on the ground” experience, God has brought Claire to a place where she is now focused on serving individuals, churches and other organizations in services that include:  Diversity, Inclusion & Equity, Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation and Organizational Transformation. To learn more about Claire and Latercha, visit: https://ccwtransformation.com/about/