21-Day Racial Equity Habit
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Created by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick-Parks
Have you ever made a successful change in your life? Perhaps you wanted to exercise more, eat less, or change jobs? Think about the time and attention you dedicated to the process. A lot, right? Change is hard. Creating effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of power, privilege and leadership is like any lifestyle change. Setting our intentions and adjusting what we spend our time doing is essential. It’s all about building new habits. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The good news is, there’s an abundance of resources just waiting to empower you to be a more effective player in the quest for justice.
About the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, oppression, and equity.
Use the tracking chart provided below to stay on course. (drag to desktop and print)
Plan includes suggestions for readings, podcasts, videos, observations, and ways to form and deepen community connections.
Adaptable to all forms of social justice.
We think understanding white privilege is a powerful lens into the complexities of doing social justice work, so we’ve focused our resources on that specific issue.
Can be done individually, with friends and family, or organization-wide.
For examples of how communities are adapting the challenge to meet their specific social justice focus click HERE.
10 Ways Well-Meaning White Teachers Bring Racism Into Our Schools, by Jamie Utt
21 Racial Microagressions You Hear on a Daily Basis, by Heben Nigatu
A Letter to My Son, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Climbing the White Escalator, by Betsy Leondar-Wright
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person, by Gina Crosley-Corcoran
Making America White Again, by Toni Morrison
Who’s to Blame for a Generation of Angry White Men?by Stacey Patton
Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap, by Amy Traub, Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Mescheded, & Tom Shapiro
What White Children Need to Know About Race, by Ali Michael and Elenora Bartoli
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and other essays, by Peggy McIntosh
Breakdances with Wolves Podcast
The Soul Glo Project
Scene on Radio (Seeing White Series, starts Episode 31)
Teaching While White (TWW)
This Week in Blackness (TWIB)
You could also choose a song from the Soundtrack4Justice playlist below.
The Angry Heart explores the impact of racism on health and longevity. (57 minutes)
Birth of a White Nation, a keynote speech by legal scholar Jacqueline Battalora, offers a blow-by-blow description of the moment the idea of, and word for, “white” people entered U.S. legal code.
The Clark Experiment explores how early in life ideas of racial inferiority and superiority are internalized. (9 minutes)
The danger of a single story, a TED Talk by Chimamanda Adiche, offers insight to the phenomenon of using small bits of information to imagine who a person is.
How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them, a TED Talk by Verna Myers, encourages work vigorously to counter balance bias by connecting with and learning about and from the groups we fear.
I Didn’t Tell You. (7 minutes)Poems for My White Friends Ever wonder what a day in the life of a person of color is like? Listen to this poem, written and spoken by Norma Johnson. From a collection she’s developing titled,
In The White Man’s Image PBS documentary about the Indian boarding school movement designed to “kill the Indian and save the man.” (56 minutes)
Race: The Power of an Illusion, a powerful three-part, three-hour film exploring the biology of skin color, the concept of assimilation, and the history of institutional racism. (Three 1 hour episodes)
Racism is Real, a split-screen video depictiing the differential in the white/black lived experience.
True Colors, episode depicting daily life for a black American in contrast to a white American.
(7 minutes)PrimeTime LiveDiane Sawyer’s 1991
What Kind of Asian Are You? Humorous two minute youtube video that illustrates the utter silliness of the way many white Americans interact with Asian Americans.
What Would You Do: Bicycle Thief Episode? ABC’s popular show explores the impact of racial and gender bias and prejudice at a family friendly park. Before this video, would you have anticipated this differential treatment?
White Bred excellent quick intro to how white supremacy shapes white lives and perception. (5 minutes)
Once people start to learn about white privilege and America’s systems of oppression through history, often they ask, “Why didn’t I see this sooner?” It’s easy to overlook what we’re not looking for. Once you understand the phenomenon of selective noticing, take yourself on a noticing adventure.
1) Start by watching the Test Your Awareness: Do The Test.
2) Then…go out in the world and change up what you notice. Here’s some of what you might look for:
Who is and is not represented in ads?
Who are your ten closest friends? What is the racial mix in this group?
As you move through the day, what’s the racial composition of the people around you? On your commute? At the coffee shop you go to? At the gym? At your workplace? At the show you go on the weekend?
What percentage of the day are you able to be with people of your own racial identity?
Notice how much of your day you are speaking about racism. Who are you engaging with on these issues? Who are you not? Why do you think this is?
What are the last five books you read? What is the racial mix of the authors?
Who is filling what kinds of jobs/social roles in your world? (e.g. Who’s the store manager and who’s stocking the shelves? Who’s waiting on tables and who’s busing the foods?) Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?
If you’re traveling by car, train, or air, do you notice housing patterns? How is housing arranged? Who lives near the downtown commerce area and who does not? Who lives near the waterfront and who does not? What is the density of a given neighborhood? Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?
Follow Racial Justice activists, educators, and organizations on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Amer F. Ahmed
Black Girl In Maine
Black Lives Matter
Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni
Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr.
Google who’s who in your area by typing in ‘Racial Justice (name of city/town).’ A few emails and phone calls later, you’ll likely have an idea of how to get on the mailing of one or more organizations in your area who are addressing issues of power and privilege. Once you connect to one, it’s easy to connect to many!
Join your Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) organization if there’s one in your area.
Take a course or workshop. Community Colleges and Adult Education Centers are a great place to find a course about social justice issues.
This can be the hardest part for white people new to racial justice work. Engaging in racially mixed settings can trigger age-old power and privilege dynamics. The goal is to be a learner more than a knower, exactly the opposite of what dominant U.S. culture teaches us to be.
Here are some Engagement Tips to guide you:
Enter the process to learn and bridge knowledge gaps.
Enter the process to practice mindful social habits such as:
Stay engaged even when your mind and body start sending you signals to shrink or walk away.
Ask clarifying questions.
Acknowledge what you don’t know.
Validate others my listening closely and believing the truth and importance of what they are sharing.
Share airtime so that multiple perspectives are shared.
Step Up Step Back. If you are generally shy and quiet, step up and practice speaking more. If you are generally a talker, practice stepping back and listening more.
Notice you biases and judgments as they arise. These are gold for you to excavate your subconscious!
Notice when you are uncomfortable. Reflect on why you’re uncomfortable and think about what you can do to build more emotional stamina in this area.
Honor confidentiality. Though you can share what you are learning in general terms, do not repeat stories in a way that can be traced back to the person who shared it.
Find a mentor within your own racial group to support and guide your growth.
Though many white people want to jump to action sooner instead of later, action without a vigorous self-education and self-reflection practice can unexpectedly reproduce the very power and privilege dynamics we seek to interrupt in this work. Here are a few actions that you might consider:
Invite friend/s, family, and/or colleagues to do the 21 Day Challenge with you.
Prepare yourself to interrupt racial jokes. Click here for some advice about how.
Interrupt the pattern of white silence by speaking openly with family, friends, and colleagues about what you’re doing and learning in the 21-Day Challenge.
Invite friend/s, family, and/or colleagues to join you for one or more of your daily “to-do’s” for a low-threshold invitation into the work and introduction to the 21-Day Challenge.
Find a local group, such as a YWCA, who’s doing racial justice work and support them through donating your time, money, and other resources.
Reflecting and Journaling is a crucial piece of the challenge. Plan to take time everyday to reflect on what you choose to do, what you’re learning, and how you are feeling. Difficult emotions such as shame and anger, though uncomfortable to feel, can guide you to deeper self-awareness about how power and privilege impacts you and the people in your life. At the very least, use the “Reflect” space on the below tracking tool.
Create a Soundtrack4Justice playlist that fuels you and/or can serve as a conversation starter with people of all ages.
Get Up, Stand Up / Bob Marley
Give Your Hands to Struggle / Sweet Honey in the Rock
We The People / Tribe Called Quest
Where Is The Love / Black Eyed Peas
White Privilege / Mackelmore
White Privilege II / Macklemore
White Privilege 3 / Gyasi Ross
Super Rich Kids / Frank Ocean
Strength, Courage & Wisdom / India Arie
Whitey on the Moon / Gil Scott-Heron
Be Free / J Cole
The 10 Stop and Frisk Commandments / Jasiri X
Alexander Hamilton (sountrack) / Various Artists (sample here)
Hijabi / Mona Hayder
If It’s Magic / Stevie Wonder
Same Love / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Keep Your Head Up / Tupac
Try / Colbie Caillat
Living for the City / Stevie Wonder
Fight the Power / Public Enemy
People Get Ready / Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions
USE THE PLANNING TOOL BELOW TO STAY ON TRACK
21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
Tip: diversify your habits by doing some of each.