EVALUATE

This section of the site is designed to help groups assess, learn from, and document their racial equity work, with special attention to issues of power and privilege in the work, and in evaluation. For guidance on evaluation terms, see the below discussion (updated from our earlier site, www.evaluationtoolsforracialequity.org) and consult the glossaries listed.


Many words that are used in evaluation have a very specific and technical meaning in that context, which may be different from their more general meaning in everyday speech. For example, in everyday speech, the words “impact” and “outcome” are both used as synonyms for “result.” However, people doing or writing up evaluations may use “outcome” to describe a changed state of being (which could be the result of a program, intervention, or activity) [...]

Resources in this section are meant to help groups prepare for an evaluation. Part of this preparation involves considering why time, energy, and resources are being invested in learning about this work. In addition, it is helpful to negotiate up front how findings and lessons will be used – not just how they will be shared, but what are the likely consequences of positive or negative results for different groups and stakeholders.

Resources in this section are intended to help groups think about how to define, track, and measure results (outcomes); articulate how strategies are expected to contribute to those outcomes (theory of change); and analyze their implications in terms of laying out the questions to be answered by evaluation. These are techniques for describing the work being done in a way that makes it easier to figure out how to document successes and challenges, and track progress and results.

This section covers an important part of evaluation: the design and creation of an evaluation plan. It offers tools, Tipsheets, and resources to help groups design their own evaluations. While a few resources focus on a particular area of work to be evaluated – for example, advocacy or leadership development – most of the information shared here is broadly applicable for groups designing an evaluation.


In addition, groups that are being evaluated can also benefit from reviewing these materials, as can those hiring an evaluator, or participating in an evaluation being designed or run by others.

This section includes tools, tips, and examples about data, including: potential sources for the kinds of data helpful in assessing racial equity work, methods for securing quality data, and some of the challenges of using existing databases. The questions a group wants to answer—for descriptive, monitoring, or evaluation purposes—will determine what information should be collected.

Resources in this section focus on various ways of organizing, making meaning of, synthesizing, and analyzing evaluation information.


One of the helpful things to remember about structural racism and privilege at the individual level is that people carry around many unconscious biases and learned narratives about race and racism. One of the features of structural racism and white privilege at a systemic level is the power it exerts on societal norms and values – that is, how society defines and reinforces what is considered normal or deviant, healthy or ill, constructive or destructive, and many other things. These patterns of thought are very likely to show up at this phase of evaluation.


At the same time, there are many opportunities at this stage to clarify, highlight, and share new ways of seeing with others. These opportunities are part of the pay-off for the effort groups and individuals expend early on, engaging multiple perspectives, grounding their work in thorough understanding of history, and developing or surfacing already developed consciousness about individual and systemic biases, racism, and privilege. Analysis can reveal the will and capacity of a group to understand and share multiple ways of seeing and working.

Resources in this section offer examples of different ways to present evaluation findings. Several highlight the importance of creating a context for viewers of the information. Why? Because, without a context for viewing the data, people will create their own explanations. And people without an understanding of the cumulative effects of systemic racism often tend to look only or mostly at individual—rather than institutional or structural—explanations that end up “blaming the victim” for poor group outcomes.


For further insights, see resources and site sections on Communicating for Racial Justice and Framing and Messaging.

Many groups doing racial equity work think about a cycle that includes planning, doing, reflecting, and refining. Information gleaned from knowledge development work and evaluation can play important roles at every phase of that cycle. Resources are grouped into two sets: those that can help groups reflect on the findings and processes of evaluation, and those that can help groups contribute to making habits of evaluation, and making knowledge development a routine part of a group or organization’s work.

“Every great change must expect opposition because it shakes the very foundation of privilege.”

~ Lucretia Mott, Quaker abolitionist and women’s rights activist

SPOTLIGHT

Anti-Racism Evaluation Panel, Atlanta-area Evaluation Association

GLOSSARY

Cultural Appropriation

Theft of cultural elements—including symbols, art, language, customs, etc.—for one’s own use, commodification, or profit, often without understanding, acknowledgement,or respect for its value in the original culture. Results from the assumption of a dominant (i.e. white) culture’s right to take other cultural elements.


SOURCE:  Colours of Resistance Archive, “Cultural Appropriation (accessed 28 June 2013).

Cultural Racism

Cultural racism refers to representations, messages and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or “whiteness” are automatically “better” or more “normal” than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism. It does that by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various forms of expression. All of these cultural norms and values in the U.S. have explicitly or implicitly racialized ideals and assumptions (for example, what “nude” means as a color, which facial features and body types are considered beautiful, which child-rearing practices are considered appropriate.)


SOURCE:  RacialEquityTools.org


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

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Ethnicity

A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base.


Examples of different ethnic groups are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American (Black); Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese (Asian); Cherokee, Mohawk, Navaho (Native American); Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican (Latino); Polish, Irish, and Swedish (White).


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

Inclusion

Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.


SOURCE:  OpenSource Leadership Strategies

People of Color

Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups. Racial justice advocates have been using the term “people of color” (not to be confused with the pejorative “colored people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities. While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.


SOURCE:  Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Racial and Ethnic Identity

An individual’s awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and ethnic categories that an individual chooses to describe him or herself based on such factors as biological heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience.


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

Structural Racialization

Structural racialization connotes the dynamic process that creates cumulative and durable inequalities based on race. Interactions between individuals are shaped by and reflect underlying and often hidden structures that shape biases and create disparate outcomes even in the absence of racist actors or racist intentions. The presence of structural racialization is evidenced by consistent differences in outcomes in education attainment, family wealth, and even life span.


SOURCE:  Systems Thinking and Race: Workshop Summary by john a. powell, Connie Cagampang Heller, and Fayza Bundalli (The California Endowment, 2011).

Whiteness

  1. The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rules in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and Englishman to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established whiteness as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. The creation of ‘whiteness’ meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.

  2. Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of color. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate, and goes beyond naming specific privileges (McIntosh, 1988). Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined, and elevated through their racialization and the individual and collective consciousness formed within it ... Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes and practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences purported to be commonly shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people.


SOURCE:

1. PBS, “Race: The Power of an Illusion” (2018–2019 relaunch of 2003 series).

2. Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility” (International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 2011).