Heart-Centered Practice: Embodying a Racial Justice Framework

By centering the heart we open up new ways of being together — and new, more powerful strategies to build racial justice.

We lead with our humanity and the centrality of our relationships, making space to acknowledge how our bodies and hearts feel. We seek to build a sense of belonging and heal from the traumas of living in systems of advantage and oppression.

— on Centering the Heart, from HIP’s Strategic Plan

A commitment to equity and racial justice requires a capacity and willingness to feel the depth of the work we are doing. We don’t mean this in an intellectual sense, but in an embodied sense. At HIP, we call this being ‘heart-centered’ or ‘integrating the head and the heart’ — which has been a critical and defining element of adopting an explicit racial justice framework.

My Own Experience with Integrating the Head and the Heart

Admittedly, a holistic integration of the head and heart has been something of a stretch for me. I grew up in an intellectual family, where arguing one’s perspective with evidence, and challenging other perspectives was central to every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This experience was crucial to developing my sense of self, my confidence, and shaped what I valued in others.

Shifting into an Acknowledgment of the Heart

The truth is, we can present as much convincing and unassailable data as we want, but if we do not tap into the emotional core of the current national discourse — which includes deep and often unarticulated feelings — we will not experience or enact the transformation we know is necessary for a more just and equitable world. There cannot be any lasting or meaningful systemic change if we aren’t making room to feel and heal.

  • Developing an ever-evolving vocabulary and collective analysis about what it means to be heart-centered
  • Norming the practice of talking about how emotionally regulated we are individually
  • Making space for shared reflection about how a body of work affects us as people
  • Listening deeply to those who have been most impacted
  • Breathing together more, paying attention to how our bodies feel, and articulating that to one another



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Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners


Bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society