Determining Action and Strategy

Some of the most meaningful activism starts at the neighborhood, community, and city level. This section provides examples of racial equity work taken on by municipalities including Seattle, Ferguson, Portland, and Boston, and shares how residents work for racial equity in health, education, and jobs at the local level.

In the Change Process section, you can find resources describing several levels and types of change, including individual transformation, leadership, internal organizational change, community change, and movement building. To prepare for determining action and strategy, two sections with additional tools and examples are Organizational Assessme [...]

Racial Equity Plan
City of Boulder, CO
Oakland Restorative Justice City Map
Tessa Finlev, Deanna VanBuren, et al.
Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, Institute for the Future
City Racial Equity Actions
Seattle, Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI)
Chairman’s Task Force on Equity & Opportunity: Summary of Work & Preliminary Recommendations
Fairfax County, Virginia
State of the South Report 2020
Jennifer Crosslin et al.
Southern Movement Assembly
No Going Back: Together for an Equitable and Inclusive Los Angeles
Committee for Greater LA
Equity Research Institute (ERI), USC Dornsife
Equality and Justice Transformations
Romina Tantalean Castañeda
Greenest City Scholars Program, Social Policy and Projects, Arts Culture Community Service, City of Vancouver
Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022
Government of Canada
Bureau Racial Equity Plans
City of Portland, Office of Equity and Human Rights
Calls to Action and Resources for Racial Justice in the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian Communities
Ukranian Antiracist Community
No Going Back: Together for an Equitable and Inclusive Los Angeles
USC Equity Research Institute; Committee for Greater LA, UCLA Luskin
Ontario’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan
Anti-Racism Directorate
The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism
City of Toronto
Towards Racial Equity through Policy & Assessment: Healing Possible Quorum 100: Recommendations
C. Anneta Arno and T. Benicio Gonzales
Center for Health Equity at Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness
#STL2039 Action Plan: Achieving an Equitable St. Louis
Forward Through Ferguson
2013 Racial Equity Agenda: Minnesota Voices Building a Path to Justice
Organizing Apprenticeship Project
2017 Racial Equity Agenda
Voices for Racial Justice
A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan
A Report on The Symposium on the Reality of Anti-Racism Work in the City of Hamilton
City of Hamilton; Ontario’s Volunteer Committee Against Racism
A Strategic Vision for the Future: City of Madison Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative
City of Madison Racial Equity and Social Justice Core Team
Anchor Richmond: Community Opportunity & Anchor Strategies for the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay
Eli Moore, Nadia Barhoum, and Alexis Alvarez Franco
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
BC Vision Plan
#BCVision Steering Committee
City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative - 2019-2021 Strategy
City of Seattle, Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI)
Dane County Wisconsin - Racial Equity Analysis & Recommendations
Center for Social Inclusion (CSI); Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE)
Economic Inclusion + Equity Agenda
City of Boston
Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, 2016-2022
King County Office of Equity and Social Justice
Equity Implementation Update
Beverly Davis and Nadia Chandler-Hardy
City of Dallas
Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity
The Ferguson Commission
Making Equity Real: A Framework for Equity
City of Portland
Mecklenburg County Equity Action Plan Overview
Phin Xaypangna et al.
Mecklenburg County, NC
Our Equitable Future: A Roadmap for the Chicago Region
Metropolitan Planning Council, City of Chicago
Report 2008: Looking Back, Moving Forward - Race & Social Justice Initiative, City of Seattle
City of Seattle, Office of Civil Rights
Resilient Boston: An Equitable and Connected City
City of Boston
Advancing Equity and Racial Justice Through the Federal Government
The White House
Racial Equity Research
Seattle, Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI)
LIFT SU Bolsters Seattle U’s Inclusive Excellence Action Plan for Racial Justice and Anti-Racist Education
Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Seattle University
Racial Equity Governing Agenda
Audacious Future: Commitment Required
Racial Equity Task Force
University of Virginia
Engaging Communities in Taking a Stand for Children and Families: Leadership Development and Strategic Planning ...
Jan Seymour
Casey Family Programs; Texas Child Protective Services
Prosperity 2050: Is Equity the Superior Growth Model?
Sarah Treuhaft and David Madland
Center for American Progress; PolicyLink
Why Place and Race Matter: Impacting Health Through a Focus on Race and Place
Judith Bell and Mary M. Lee
Nonprofit and Philanthropy: Stop with the BS and Get Serious about Fighting White Supremacy
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
Wellbeing in Action
Wellbeing Blueprint, Full Frame Initiative
Liberatory Design: Mindsets and Modes to Design for Equity
T. Anaissie, V. Cary, D. Clifford, T. Malarkey, S. Wise, et al.
Liberatory Design
How do We Solve Structural Racism? A 5X5 Review
Eva Jewell et al.
Yellowhead Institute
Metathemes: Designing for Equitable Social Change
Design Impact
Racial Equity Action Plans: A How-to Manual
Ryan Curren, Julie Nelson, Dwayne S. Marsh, Simran Noor, and Nora Liu
Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE); Haas Institute; Center for Social Inclusion (CSI)
Transformative Strategy (Webinar #6)
Jovida Ross & Weyam Ghadbian
Movement Strategy Center (MSC); Move to End Violence
Confront the Root Causes
From Seed to Harvest: A Toolkit for Collaborative Racial Equity Strategies
Leah Obias and Emi Yoko-Young
Race Forward
Highlander Research and Education Center
Catalytic Thinking: Our Values & Philosophy
Creating the Future
Emergent Strategy: Organizing for Social Justice
Forte Labs
Communities Creating Racial Equity Sample Goals & Indicators of Outcomes
Cultural Geography and Place Based Problem-Solving
dS4si - Design Studio for Social Intervention
Power and Social Change
Grassroots Policy Project

Black Lives Matter

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” 

SOURCE:  Black Lives Matter, “Herstory” (accessed 7 October 2019).


When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression. 

Example: Able-bodied people who object to strategies for making buildings accessible because of the expense.

SOURCE:  Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (Routledge, 1997).

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.


  • Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).

  • City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

SOURCE:  Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Institutional Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can:

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems.

  • Enable people to exercise their collective power.

  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected.

  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign.

  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice, and democracy.

SOURCE:  Julie Quiroz-Martinez, From the Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism (Akonadi Foundation, 2010), citing the Movement Strategy Center, which offers these further definitions.

Related Resources:  Movement Building

Location: PLAN / Change Process


The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,

  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),

  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and

  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

SOURCE:  What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Racial Inequity

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing, such as the percentages of each ethnic group in terms of dropout rates, single family home ownership, access to healthcare, etc.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Racist Policies

A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Related Resources:  Laws and Policies

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

For specific topics, also see PLAN / Issues


States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE:  International Center for Transitional Justice.

Related Resources:  Reparations

Location: PLAN / Issues

Structural Racism

  1. The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

  2. For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.


  1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).

  2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Structural Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Supremacy

The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege and Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

Locations: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts and PLAN / Issues