UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMIC RACISM
Welcome to the 21-Day Equity Challenge!
We cannot cease in confronting our country’s history of exploiting identity. It is time for us to take a closer look at the inequities that are deeply rooted in our systems and institutions, and work together to create an America where every individual has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and identity. Over the next 21 days, we will explore difficult topics, like structural racism, segregation, and privilege, to open up dialogue on how we can be champions of equity in our personal and professional lives.
Please be advised that the United Way 21-Day Equity Challenge curriculum uses video content and audio commentary to supplement the information presented. Some content may be viewed as incendiary or offensive. The views expressed in the curriculum are those of the individual authors, contributors, and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of our community partners choosing to participant in the challenge.
Before you get started, if you haven’t done so already, please fill out this pre-event survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the challenge with us. We also encourage you to download your Day 1 Journal Page – a tool to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the challenge has to offer.
Today, we will define race as a concept. However, before sharing this definition, we ask that you reflect on your personal understanding of race by answering the following questions:
- What is race to you?
- Is race science based, or a social construct?
- How does your race impact you on a day to day basis?
- Are there any unique events that have occurred exclusively because of your race?
After thinking on the questions above, feel free to utilize the resources below to learn more about racial equity and the role that it can play in the lives of not only yourself, but your peers and coworkers as well.
Remember, we have a surplus of content to provide multiple perspectives. Try to keep your learning to 10-15 minutes, unless you are REALLY intrigued by the day’s content. We’d also like to bring up the idea of additional learning over the weekend. This is all to say that we want everyone to digest this content slowly to avoid burn out and losing interest over the duration of the challenge. Please find our shared definition of race below.
Race: A socially constructed way of grouping people based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. The ideology of race has become embedded in our identities, institutions, and culture and is used as a basis for discrimination and domination.
Read the article Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs by Angela Onwuachi-Willig on how race is not a proven concept, but instead a social construct.
Watch the TEDx Talk Unpacking My Baggage: Re-framing Racial Identity by Abbi Van Hook to see an alternative way of looking at racial identity based on varying cultures. (2:47)
Watch Growing Pains from TEDxYouth@Davenport — A collaboration of three lifelong friends, they recount their very different experiences growing up in very similar situations. Nia, Lily, and Nina express their unique and similar struggles, using their voice in this story-based speaking performance. (5:05)
NEXT TOPIC: THE EFFECTS OF RACISM
CONVERSATION PIECE: Art Addressing Equity
Artist: Meg Saligman & 2,600 community partners • Title: Once in a Millennium Moon
A special thanks to the Downtown Development Authority for providing this art.