This section focuses on 20 different Issue areas including language justice, economic security, and children, families, and youth. Resources in each area cover the gamut from research to key sites, plus you can find content about imagining new futures. The three other major categories help you develop a community or organizational change process, garner and analyze information to inform the plan, and find resources to develop an action plan. Change Process includes conceptual info, case studies, tools, and practices covering accountability, individual transformation, organizational and community change, and movement building. In Informing the Plan, you can identify opportunities and challenges through the use of assessment tools for communities and organizations. Finally, Action Plan provides resources to determine strategy, as well as to make the case with diverse stakeholders.
Communities and groups that work on racial equity often pick a particular issue as their starting point (immigration, hate crimes, environmental justice) or work to transform particular institutions or systems (criminal justice, education, philanthropy, media).
The information in this section invites users to delve into specific issues as part of their planning for action. These resources are helpful for planning, setting strategy, and learning from examples of others’ work. In addition, for almost every issue area, there are key sites listed that can be used to access further information.
Yet, as many of the resources in FUNDAMENTALS reveal, racism, systems of white supremacy, internalized racism, and colonization intersect with each other. It is thus important to analyze the ecosystem and use systems thinking to determine a strategy and set goals. Change in one area can often influence and deepen change in another area.
This section offers resources on several processes of change – that is, how individuals, groups, and communities advance racial equity work and build movements. It covers several paths to change, including individual transformation, leadership change, internal organizational change, community change, and movement building. Additionally, it includes resources to work collectively on a particular issue or transform institutions or communities by bringing people together in networks, alliances, and coalitions. While each of these can be thought of as a separate process, with its own tools and practices, it takes a combination of these processes to sustain the effort to achieve racial justice. Finally, whether racial equity work is happening within communities, or is part of a broader movement, it is critical to develop and implement accountability practices. Accountability demands that racial equity work be led by and consistent with the interests and expectations of the people most impacted by racism. This section provides resources in each of these areas.
This website is intended to support individuals and groups who are working to advance racial justice and equity. One of the core assumptions is that transformative change requires changing power balances, resource allocations, decision-making processes, and policies and practices of various institutions (government, schools, media, etc.).
This section provides tools to analyze the history and data. It will be useful to review some of the Tipsheets at the start of a planning process to ensure that there is diverse representation within planning groups, leadership by those most impacted by racism, an inclusive and equitable process, and analysis through a racial equity lens.
The resources and tools in this section are intended to help groups create an action plan to reach racial equity goals, and to do so using more racially equitable processes – that is, ones that acknowledge systemic and individual privilege, racism, and power. It will be most helpful to groups who have an understanding of privilege, structural and other levels of racism, and how they are related to their vision and their work (see FUNDAMENTALS). This section focuses on how to decide which strategies to use, and provides examples of organizational and community action plans, as well as how to make the case to reach a racial equity vision.
An effective plan to create racial equity balances several needs. It includes the group’s best understanding of all of the steps to achieve its vision – those that are necessary and sufficient. When possible, strategies should be based on experience and research. At the same time, an effective plan to address racial equity allows considerable flexibility for innovation and trial and error. This is because most societies have never achieved racial equity on most issues of concern (for example, opportunity, life expectancy, economic security), so the plan to get there remains unproven. A great plan will also include benchmarks that provide guidance and incentives to implement the plan at high quality (see EVALUATE).
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
~ Bishop Desmond Tutu, South African activist and religious leader
Making the Struggle Every Day | Ella Baker
In the context of racial equity work, accountability refers to the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.
To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process. Invisibility defies examination; it is, in fact, employed in order to avoid detection and examination. Accountability demands commitment. It might be defined as “what kicks in when convenience runs out.” Accountability requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.
SOURCE: Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010).
Related Resources: Accountability
Location: PLAN / Change Process
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 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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Related Resources: Reparations
Location: PLAN / Issues
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.
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.
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).
Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).
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.