What does it look like to make anti-racist action a daily practice? What effect does that have on the way you look at the world, interact with others, or participate in the systems that construct our society?
For 21 days in January, 2021, 288 participants received daily emails as part of the Racial Equity Challenge hosted by UNC School of Social Work’s Jordan Institute for Families and Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s Research and Evaluation Division and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch of the NAACP, adapted for the Chapel Hill/Orange County community from its original version by the Washtenaw County, MI, United Way.
The challenge’s daily emails consisted of two main parts: information and action. The information built upon itself to establish a broad understanding of racial equity issues, starting with one’s own personal identity and expanding our to historical and current issues of segregation, workplace discrimination, health disparities, education and the “achievement gap,” environmental justice, and more. It incorporated national data as well as information specific to Orange County, North Carolina, implicitly emphasizing the importance of making change on a local level.
The Challenge half of the emails included 4-7 options for further engagement with the day’s topic, with a variety of modalities from journal prompts, videos, articles, actions, or interactive data. Participants were encouraged to vary their modes of engagement and record them in a daily tracking log. Participants also had the option to join the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge Sakai page (web portal hosted by UNC) to post in forums for each day of the challenge, prompting interesting discussions and the opportunity to further engage with the content.
At the end of the 21 Days, participants filled out a final survey on their takeaways and action items. Though responses were quite varied and reflected individuals’ personal anti-racist journeys, several themes emerged:
- Reflection – Self-check-ins with an anti-racist growth mindset
- Self-care for those dealing with racism on top of fighting for racial equity
- Daily journal/reflection on how racism may have shown up for them that day
- Openness to continue learning and to have one’s mind changed
- Education – Continuing to actively seek opportunities to learn more about racial equity issues
- Attend racial equity trainings or bringing racial equity trainings to one’s workplace (Racial Equity Institute; Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, etc.)
- Go through all the remaining Daily Challenge items (the ones not picked initially)
- Read more books by BIPOC writers
- Engagement – Processing this material with others in an action-oriented way
- Get more involved with local organizations doing racial equity work (NAACP)
- Form an anti-racist book club
- Share resources from this challenge with friends, family members, and children
- Action – Concrete steps towards building a racial equity future
- Engage with local/state politicians through calls, letters, etc.
- Speak out when witnessing instances of racism in daily life, however “small”
- Challenge friends, family, and coworkers who are not currently as far along on their anti-racist journey
- Support black-owned and other person-of-color-owned businesses.
- Apply anti-racist and other racial equity tools from this challenge, such as positive asset framing
Any good Racial Equity tool should leave one with more questions than they started, and a starting place of where to begin to seek those answers. It is our sincere hope that participants of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge about racial justice were able to find ways to expand their existing knowledge and pushed themselves to grow in meaningful, actionable ways.
We are currently exploring the possibility of a Part II to the Racial Equity Challenge. If you would be interested in participating, have ideas for content, or would like to partner with us to run either part of the challenge in your organization, please email us at email@example.com.