Policy and Legislative Change

White people and people of color access voting, social services, and employment in vastly different ways. These disparities are rooted in local and federal policies of the 1940s and 1950s that determined which racial and ethnic groups could attain low-cost mortgages, buy property, and live in certain neighborhoods. The result is large gaps in wealth among racial and ethnic groups. Discriminatory policies continue today including a system that pegs property taxes to public funding and services.


Social movements have sought and demanded legislative change as a key strategy toward changing realities on the ground, as structural racism continues to penetrate systems of public health, education, and criminal justice. This section provides content about strategies aimed at changing policies and systems, including legislative change and litigation.

Examples

Title
Author
Organization
Council Office of Racial Equity
District of Columbia (DC)
Detroit: On a Journey to Be Seen
Tawana Petty
Data for Black Lives Blog
Black Bill of Rights
Darcy Totten and Jasper James
Activism Articulated
Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government
President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
How Oregon’s Radical Decriminalization of Drugs Was Inspired by Portugal
Roshan Abraham
Next City
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Bill Introduced in California
Alexis Bunten and Dr. Joely Proudfit
Bioneers
Black Lives Matter & Systemic Racism Resolution
City of Iowa City
California Strategic Growth Council’s Racial Equity Resolution
California Strategic Growth Council
Municipal Policies for Community Wealth Building
NYC & Consumer and Worker Protection
To Overcome Structural Racism, We Must Create an Anti-Racist Government
Tracey Ross
Essence Magazine
2 of 5 - By the Numbers: Using Disaggregated Data to Inform Policies, Practices and Decision-Making
Catherine Mong et al.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Changing the Lights
Julie Nelson and Glenn Harris with Gary Delgado
Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE); Center for Social Inclusion (CSI); Backstory Narratives
Louder Than Words: Lawyers, Communities and the Struggle for Justice
Penda D. Hair
The Rockefeller Foundation
Maine Racial Justice Policy Guide
Ben Chin
Maine People’s Resource Center
The Policy Framework for Substantive Equality
Government of Western Australia, Equal Opportunity Commission

Tools

Title
Author
Organization
3 of 5 - Tools for Thought: Using Racial Equity Impact Assessments for Effective Policymaking
Putnam Consulting Group et al.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
A Handbook of Data Collection Tools: Companion to “A Guide to Measuring Advocacy and Policy”
Jane Reisman, Anne Gienapp, and Sarah Stachowiak
Organizational Research Services; The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Assessing Public Policy Issues and Political Candidates
Paul Kivel
Leading at the Intersections: An Introduction to the Intersectional Approach Model for Policy & Social Change
C. Nicole Mason, PhD
Women of Color Policy Network at NYU Wagner School of Public Service
Race, Power and Policy: Dismantling Structural Racism
Sandra Hinson, Richard Healey and Nathaniel Weisenberg et al.
Grassroots Policy Project; National People’s Action
Racial Equity Tool: Policy Review Worksheet
Puget Sound Educational Service District
Racial Equity Toolkit for Policies, Programs, and Budget
City of Seattle; Race and Social Justice Initiative
Racial Equity Toolkit: Implementing Greenlining’s Racial Equity Framework
Adrian Sanchez and Carla Saporta
The Greenlining Institute
Racial Impact Statements: Changing Policies to Address Disparities
Marc Mauer
The Sentencing Project

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight

~ Bob Marley

SPOTLIGHT

Changing the Lights – Julie Nelson and Glenn Harris with Gary Delgado

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Trauma and Healing

  • Caucus and Affinity Groups

  • Community Organizing

  • Hate Crimes Prevention and Response

  • Narrative Change

  • Training and Popular Education

  • Advocacy

  • Community Building

  • Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

  • Leadership Development

  • Organizational Change Process

  • Youth Activism and Intergenerational Work

  • Arts and Culture

  • Community Engagement

  • Dialogue and Deliberation

  • Multicultural Competency

  • Racial Reconciliation

GLOSSARY

Anti-Racist

An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity. 


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

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

A caucus is an intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections. Caucuses based on racial identity are often comprised, respectively, of people of color, white people, people who hold multiracial identities, or people who share specific racial or ethnic identities.


To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation. At times, people of color may also break into more specific race-based caucuses, sometimes based on experiences with a particular issue, for example police violence, immigration, or land rights. Groups that use caucuses in their organizational racial equity work, especially in workplaces and coalitions, generally meet separately and create a process to rejoin and work together collectively.


SOURCE:  RacialEquityTools.org (ACT / Strategies / Caucus and Affinity Groups)


Related Resources:  Caucus and Affinity Groups

Location: ACT / Strategies

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.


SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 


Related Resources:  Implicit Bias

Location: ACT / Communicating

Microaggression

The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.


SOURCE:  Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).

Multicultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.


SOURCE:  Paul Kivel, “Multicultural Competence” (2007).


Related Resources:  Multicultural Competency

Location: ACT / Strategies

Power

  1. Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

  2. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.


SOURCE: 

  1. Intergroup Resources, “Power” (2012).

  2. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racism and Power” (2018) / “CARED Glossary” (2020).

Racial Healing

To restore to health or soundness; to repair or set right; to restore to spiritual wholeness.


SOURCE:  Michael R. Wenger, Racial Equity Resource Guide (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2012).

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas. First, it recognizes that racism in America is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities. Second, reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship-building and truth-telling. Lastly, justice is the essential component of the conciliatory process—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.


SOURCE:  The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Position Statement on Reconciliation (2014).

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.


SOURCE:  The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms – a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what “normal” is – and likewise, what “professional,” “effective,” or even “good” is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, “at risk,” or “unsustainable.” White culture values some ways of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing – ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition – while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so...

  2. An artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies, and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.


SOURCE:

1. Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity” (The Foundation Review vol. 6: issue 1, 2014).

2. Sharon Martinas and the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, 4th revision (1995).