Identifying Opportunities and Challenges

Overview

Many groups stress the importance of understanding the racial history of a community or an organization, including current dynamics of race and power. This is important for many reasons, particularly in the planning stages of racial equity work. The legacy of previous work shapes places and organizations. That legacy thus deeply influences the way they respond to current efforts toward racial equity. Similarly, it is useful to recognize that an organization and community has its own flow, into which any new effort must fit. Groups doing racial equity or similar work often see their work as of highest priority, failing to recognize that the community or organization has its own agenda, concerns, interests and priorities. In speaking about “flow,” Barbara Major notes, “You will never have a successful project if you don’t have a successful process. The community’s world revolves around process and not just a project. Projects come and go, but for us, life is always a process.” (Flipping the Script page 72)

In addition to helping to identify legacy and flow, the process of collecting and sharing information can be a useful organizing activity. The information that is learned about current racial disproportionality in key institutional areas (educational attainment, home ownership, income, etc.) can be used as a wake-up call. Doing a power analysis that looks at how money, influence, decision-making and relationships affect current outcomes for various groups can guide racial equity work and point out possible areas of resistance. In addition, understanding current racial and power dynamics includes knowing the organizations and individuals currently working on racial equity, what each contributes and how they might influence this work. It is also helpful to plan for the long haul. National, regional and local trends also offer opportunities if one can anticipate them and build strategies into plans to take advantage of them. It may also be helpful to review the Tip Sheet, Assessing Your Community, Part I: The Initial Steps and Considerations for Doing Racial Equity Work.

Concepts

Community

Practices

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