Introduction to Racial Equity Tools
Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups across sectors and at all levels in the work of promoting racial equity. We hope it will help people understand and articulate the role that race plays in our communities, and act in deliberate and effective ways to promote racial equity, inclusion and social justice throughout systems, organizations and among ourselves as individuals and people working together toward racial equity.
It is tempting to think that racial inequity is a problem of the past. The overwhelming weight of evidence, however, indicates that is absolutely not the case. The socially constructed reality we call 'race' is still one of the strongest predictors, in a statistical sense, of how groups of people fare in terms of wealth, health, education and many other aspects of life. Even in this era of high-profile (and, in some cases, historic) success stories at the individual level, the legacy of past discrimination within policies and institutions (both illegal and legal) continues to have a profound impact. It is also important to note, however, that there are also many current institutional and government policies that, if left unchecked, will only increase what are already oppressive inequalities. Simply put, the problem is real, and unless active measures are taken to change the systems which continue to fuel it, it will not go away.
There are many related threads that contribute to current conditions. For example, there is evidence that past racism and privilege have contributed to current differences in poverty and wealth among racial groups. There is documentation of housing policies and practices that continue to segregate towns and cities. Analyses point to the ways in which current methods of financing schools keep public education a highly uneven enterprise. Evidence exists about the lack of knowledge that racial and ethnic groups have of one another and about the cultural stereotypes that rise up to fill those gaps in understanding. These historical legacies and current policies, practices and cultural representations are the components of "structural racism," a term that has gained prominence in recent years to describe the racial dynamics of the U.S.
To move from where we are toward racial equity on these various fronts, we need solid plans implemented at high quality. An effective plan to create racial equity balances several needs. Proven strategies are coupled with room for innovation and flexibility. Comprehensiveness - including all of the steps to achieve your vision - is balanced with enough focus to do your work very well. Why? Because while it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel on something as important as racial equity, we also have never really created a racially equitable society - so we do not really know all that it might take.
For the same reasons, effective movements towards racial equity, social justice and inclusion call for tangible and early successes - so-called 'low hanging fruit'. These motivate people and prove you can get things done. At the same time, it is useful to include strategies and supports that factor in long-term and sustained effort to move past roadblocks and resistance, and get you to your goals. This site was designed to help you think about, act and take steps that balance these important considerations.
How the Site is Arranged:
Racial Equity Tools is organized into four main areas. The first page of each section has an overview of the resources and tools in that section. Several also have questions or suggestions to help you think about what needs to happen at this point in a change process. At the end of each section are Tip sheets. Tip sheets provide more detail about one topic, often a particular part of a change process.
The four sections are:
- Essential Concepts and Issues: background information about privilege, various types of racism and other key concepts and descriptions of various individual and collective change processes. The section also includes research and descriptions of strategies in 13 specific issue areas (for example, housing, education, environmental racism). Content from this section will be especially useful when you are developing your groups' understanding of what racial equity, inclusion and social justice mean and possibilities for working toward them.
- Assessing and Learning: materials and tips to dig deeply into your organization or your community - to know more about how change happens and the lay of the land in terms of racial equity. Content from this section will be especially useful when you are deciding how to focus your work and how your group might contribute to making things better.
- Planning and Implementing: materials and tips to help your group get ready to act, and put in place strategies at high quality, using processes that consider privilege, racism and power. This area also includes information about individual, intergroup, and institutional change strategies.
- Sustaining and Refining: materials and tips to help you stay the course, improve your actions as you go and progress toward the long-term changes you seek. Specific content ranges from information about working with the media to resources and tips for building a learning community.
Glossary for Racial Equity:
There are a number of different terms used throughout this Web site that have different meanings and histories for different people. The same words sometimes divide people or draw them together, depending on who uses them, whether or not people agree on their meanings and what experiences they conjure up for those speaking and those hearing. The language of power, privilege and racism also changes over time.
Please click on the glossary to see the definitions we are using for several of the terms in this Web site, for example: racial equity, social justice, white privilege, structural racism. The definitions come from several sources, noted. We particularly want to thank Project Change, which created a similar glossary from which some of the definitions were taken or adapted. As they note, "the glossary is not intended as a definitive, authoritative document, but rather as a meaningful and provocative starting point for the creation of a common vocabulary." We welcome comments and contributions to the glossary.
Submit Additional Resources:
We hope this site is a convenient clearinghouse of tools and resources for your work. Thank you again to all of those who shared their materials. We continue to seek additional resources. For example, we do not currently list books - but will be adding information about useful ones to the resource lists over time. Please complete the "Submit Resources" form if you have resources to share. If you have ideas for additional tip sheets, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider joining our email list to learn when the site has been updated with new resources (a few times a year).
The content on this site is an edited selection of resources we (About Us) have found useful in racial equity research and practice. A small group of outside reviewers also reviewed and recommended many of these resources. Their names are listed in Acknowledgments, and we thank them again for their expertise and willingness to help. No attempt was made to compile a complete list, nor did we do an exhaustive review of available resources.
Some materials are included even though they do not have an explicit analysis of racism or privilege. We encourage you to read the following tip sheet: Reviewing Resources for assistance in overlaying a racial equity analysis onto documents in which that analysis is not explicit.
We welcome feedback on the resources we've included, or on any other aspect of this site. Please email us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.