Penumbra Center for Racial Healing| Podcast

There is no single cure for racism, but the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing is empowering the community with resources to overcome it. In this episode of Off the Charts podcast, we talk with Sarah Bellamy, the center’s president, and Camille Cyprian, the wellness director, about the tools needed to thrive in an environment with myriad issues, including racism. Listen to the episode or read the transcript.

The legacy of Penumbra Center for Racial Healing
The Penumbra Center for Racial Healing evolved from Penumbra Theater, a St. Paul, Minnesota, performance space that started in the ’60s during the Black Arts Movement. Its new incarnation, the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing, seeks to expand its scope by providing new arts opportunities, equity training, wellness services and more staff to meet the needs of the community.
Shepherding that mission are president Sarah Bellamy and wellness director Camille Cyprian. Penumbra is undergoing a community needs assessment to determine the best way to serve the community, but healing the harm racism has had on the community is the overarching goal.
Tools for racial healing
Racism hurts everyone. The Penumbra Center for Racial Healing focuses on four areas where it is endemic: health equity, education, criminal justice and climate.
The arts are an essential component in healing from racism. They create an opportunity to tell a story from a unique perspective, one that resonates with the people the Penumbra Center serves. This creates trust that will hopefully serve as one of many inroads to the organization’s resources.
In addition to arts programs, the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing will promote equity, advocacy and training, and offer wellness education.
Wellness, for the Penumbra Center, includes personal, mental and physical health, as well as community health. Racism is directly related to chronic illness because of the sustained stress of experiencing racism. The Penumbra Center will support the community with programs to teach stress management, which is particularly important for younger generations. Building resilience among the youth and helping them learn how to manage the stress of racism is the best solution when the environment they live in hasn’t yet changed for the better.
What success looks like
Leadership at the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing endeavors to face and understand the past while looking forward. For them, success looks like several things. It’s building awareness of the realities of racism, including its direct correlation to physical health and that it occurs at the systems and personal levels.
Penumbra will also connect cultural practices to help with the rehumanizing of the community it serves. It’s the hope of the leadership at Penumbra that it will be a beacon for the United States. Although the racism experienced in St. Paul may be different from other parts of the nation, the Penumbra Center hopes it can be in fluid relationship with counterparts in other states while having strong support locally.
Listen to the episode to hear more from Sarah Bellamy and Camille Cyprian about the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing and its mission.