Racial Equity Learning Resources
Racial Equity Learning Resources
What is racial equity?
Racial equity means closing the gaps so that race no longer predicts one’s success, while also improving outcomes for all. To close the gaps, we center communities of color to focus improvements for those most impacted by racial inequity, moving beyond services to transform policies, institutions, and structures.
To the CAC, racial equity means that we use a race explicit and not race exclusive approach to systems change. For example, disaggregating data by race to see the real impacts of our investments across various communities. We are also learning from Disability Justice organizers and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality. The CAC understands that many intersecting experiences and identities contribute to a community or individuals’ experience of systemic oppression, therefore our understanding of racial equity is grounded in an intersectional approach.
Introduction to the following racial equity resources
The provided resources offer a survey of methods, commitments, and points of entry that local, state, and national arts organizations have used to understand and advance racial equity practices and policies. Every community experiences the impacts of systemic racism and systemic inequities differently, therefore community specific approaches to addressing systems of inequity are crucial in this work. The CAC seeks to support these community-led racial equity practices. Please use the resources below as inspiration to start, refine, and/or support the development of your organization’s racial equity statement and practices.
NOTE: This is not meant to be comprehensive. The following resources provided are starting points. Racial equity work is an ongoing learning process and we offer this resource as a catalyst to support your learning and transformation.
Honoring leaders’ labor
Countless hours of labor, often by people who have been most impacted by white supremacy have gone into creating these statements, frameworks, and tools. Provide proper credit when using an organization’s or leader’s work. Let’s practice transparency and respect.
- Innovations in Government Workshop Series: Centering local artists and cultural practitioners as leaders to advance racial equity in California’s creative field (November 2022)
- Council Racial Equity Training: Introduction to White Supremacy Culture & Systems Thinking presentation (June 22, 2021) – YouTube
- Council Racial Equity Training: Introduction to White Supremacy Culture & Systems Thinking presentation (June 22, 2021) – PDF
- Why Race? Workshop webinar recording (October 29, 2020) – YouTube
- Why Race? Workshop presentation (October 29, 2020) – PDF
- Why Race? Workshop worksheets (October 29, 2020)
- A brief history of race in the U.S
- A History: The Construction of Race and Racism | Dismantling Racism Project Western States Center
- Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity | Shakti Butler
- Explaining white privilege to a broke white person | Gina Crosley-Corcoran
- Making sense of Cultural Equity: When visions of a better future diverge, how do we choose a path forward? | Clara Inés Schuhmacher, Katie Ingersoll, Fari Nzinga and Ian David Moss
- What is Culture and Cultural Racism? | Dismantling Racism
- White Supremacy Culture | Tema Okun
- Amador County Arts Council Statement on Racial Equity & Anti-Racism
- California Arts Council Racial Equity Statement
- Cornish Statement and Resources on Racial Equity
- Emerging Arts Professionals San Francisco / Bay Area | Equity Framework
- Fremont Arts Council Commitment to Racial Equity and Inclusion
- Racial Equity at Nevada County Arts Council
- Racial Equity at Pratt Fine Arts Center: Our Statement of Purpose
- Racial Equity in Arts Funding Statement of Purpose and Recommendations for Action | Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA)
- Racial Equity Principles | National Arts Strategies
- San Francisco Arts Commission Racial Equity Statement
- Statement on Cultural Equity and Racial Justice June 2017 | Native Arts & Cultures Foundation
- Building Your Plan: A Cultural Equity & Inclusion Toolkit
- Floyd Case Forces Arts Groups to Enter the Fray | Robin Pogrebin and Julia Jacobs
- How Arts Organizations in Chicago Are Challenging Systemic Racism
- Organizational Change Process | Racial Equity Tools
- Racial Equity Here / Act: Understanding and Using a Racial Equity Tool
- Racial Equity Here / Learn: Training Deck – Facilitator Version
- Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab | Race Forward
- Racial Equity Toolkit An Opportunity to Operationalize Equity by Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE)
- Recommended Reading | Enrich Chicago
Land Acknowledgement from California Arts Council Member, Gerald Clarke
The California Arts Council acknowledges the original inhabitants of the lands now called California and that California continues to be home to many Indigenous communities. Generations of tribal communities developed deep understandings of the land and continue long standing relationships with the land, water, air, plant and animal beings through ceremony, culture, and stewardship. These communities are not only an important part of our history as contemporary Californian’s but are also important voices in our understanding of this place.
In acknowledging the violent history of the founding of the State of California, its support of state sponsored genocide, the misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and their culture, and the erasure of their contributions to our shared history, we at the California Arts Council recognize our responsibility to these Indigenous communities and we are compelled to support tribes, tribal organizations and related organizations (including arts organizations) in their efforts to uplift Indigenous people and communities.
With these ideals in mind, we recognize today that the California Arts Council is a statewide organization with staff and council members residing in numerous occupied territories of tribal nations and its offices are located on the traditional homelands of the Maidu, Miwok, Nisenan, Patwin and Wintun peoples of the Sacramento region, and to also acknowledge and honor the Wilton Rancheria, the only federally recognized tribe in Sacramento County.
Understanding White Supremacy and Systemic / Institutionalized Racism
Colonialism / Colonization
Colonialism is defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.” In practice, colonialism is when one country violently invades and takes control of another country, claims the land as its own, and sends people — “settlers” — to live on that land.
Health and Justice — The Path of Liberation Through Medicine – Rupa Marya, MD
Exterminate All the Brutes – Filmmaker Raoul Peck Explores Colonialism & Origins of White Supremacy
White Supremacy Culture
The term white supremacy refers to the ways in which the ruling class elite or the power elite in the colonies of what was to become the United States used the pseudo-scientific concept of race to create whiteness and a hierarchy of racialized value in order to:
- disconnect and divide white people from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC);
- disconnect and divide Black, Indigenous, and People of Color from each other;
- disconnect and divide white people from other white people;
- disconnect and divide each and all of us from the earth, the sun, the wind, the water, the stars, the animals that roam(ed) the earth;
- disconnect and divide each of us from ourselves and from source (see below).
The power elite constructed white supremacy (and construct it still) to define who is fully human and who is not.
System of White Supremacy and White Privilege – Racial Equity Tools
White Body Supremacy
Individual and institutional attitudes, practices, and policies that elevate the white body as the standard against which all other persons’ worth is measured. White body supremacy is first described in the writings of Resmaa Menakem as a type of embodied trauma response resulting from the intergenerational transmission of oppressive race-based biases and fears held in the body. This construct is grounded in the belief that the reflexive responses that sustain racism are often unconscious and manifest at a physiological level. Menakem challenges the idea that such deeply embedded patterns can be transformed through cognitive processes alone, but rather must be addressed somatically.
Teaching Embodied Anti-Racism – Resmaa Menakem
Is unearned (conscious or unconscious) access and power based on systemic bias.
White privilege refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack – Peggy McIntosh
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person – Gina Crosley-Corcoran, CD(DONA), MPH(c)
The Council for Democratizing Education defines anti-Blackness as being a two-part formation that both voids Blackness of value, while systematically marginalizing Black people and their issues. The first form of anti-Blackness is overt racism. Beneath this anti-Black racism is the covert structural and systemic racism which categorically predetermines the socioeconomic status of Blacks in this country. The structure is held in place by anti-Black policies, institutions, and ideologies.
The second form of anti-Blackness is the unethical disregard for anti-Black institutions and policies. This disregard is the product of class, race, and/or gender privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black institutions and policies. This form of anti-Blackness is protected by the first form of overt racism.
Racial Equity & Anti-Black Racism – UCSF Multicultural Resource Center
As Non-Black POC, We Need to Address Anti-Blackness – Ana Cecilia Pérez
Racism, Systemic / Structural Racism
Is a complex system of beliefs and behaviors, grounded in a presumed superiority of the white people These beliefs and behaviors are conscious and unconscious; personal and institutional; and result in the oppression of people of color and benefit the dominant group, white people. A simpler definition is racial prejudice + power = racism.
The “Different Levels of Racism” Framework is an analytical tool for unpacking different types of racism that are often interacting and operating simultaneously. It is helpful to distinguish between individual and systemic racism in order to focus needed and distinct attention, analysis, and strategies on institutional and structural racism. It points toward needed systemic change-focused strategies which address root causes and can result in more transformative and lasting change. We need to invest more in institutional and structural change strategies to get to racial justice. Strategies to address individual racism are not sufficient for dismantling structural racism.
Individual racism includes internalized and interpersonal racism.
- Internalized racism lies within individuals. These are private beliefs and biases about race that reside inside our own minds and bodies. For White people, this can be internalized privilege, entitlement, and superiority; for people of color, this can be internalized oppression. Examples: prejudice, xenophobia, conscious and unconscious bias about race, influenced by the white supremacy.
- Interpersonal Racism occurs between individuals. Bias, bigotry, and discrimination based on race. Once we bring our private beliefs about race into our interactions with others, we are now in the interpersonal realm. Examples: public expressions of prejudice and hate, microaggressions, bias and bigotry between individuals.
Systemic Racism includes institutional and structural racism.
- Institutional racism occurs within institutions. It involves unjust policies, practices, procedures, and outcomes that work better for White people than people of color, whether intentional or not. Example: A school district that concentrates students of color in the most overcrowded, under-funded schools with the least experienced teachers.
- Structural racism is racial inequities across institutions, policies, social structures, history, and culture. Structural racism highlights how racism operates as a system of power with multiple interconnected, reinforcing, and self-perpetuating components which result in racial inequities across all indicators for success. Structural racism is the racial inequity that is deeply rooted and embedded in our history and culture and our economic, political, and legal systems. Examples: The “racial wealth gap,” where Whites have many times the wealth of people of color, resulting from the history and current reality of institutional racism in multiple systems.
Not Just Money: Where is the Money Going? – Helicon Collaborative
Eight-one-minute videos on Systemic Racism – Race Forward
Four types of Racial Bias & Racism – Race Forward
Structural Racism – Keith Lawrence and Terry Keleher
Understanding the spectrum of Equity, Justice, and Liberation
Power is most commonly understood as a form of authority, control or domination. Those with authority over others are considered powerful, while those who are dominated are seen as powerless. This kind of power is often labelled as ‘power over’.
Power over others can be exercised in many ways. The most obvious is brute domination, where a person or institution controls or constrains what another is able to do. But power can also be exercised by influencing what others think they can do or even imagine as possible. It extends beyond physical or verbal domination to affecting the ways in which people view themselves, their rights and capabilities.
A useful framework which builds on and moves beyond this understanding of power is summarized by Lisa VeneKlasen and Valerie Miller, whose 2002 book A New Weave of Power, People and Politics: The action guide for advocacy and citizen participation outlines several ways of looking at power as a positive rather than a negative force. They argue that these positive expressions of power – sometimes called agency – can be recognised and supported in development cooperation efforts.
Expressions of Power
- Power Over – Power is seen as a win-lose kind of relationship. Having power over involves taking it from someone else, and then using it to dominate and prevent others from gaining it.
- Power to – an individual’s ability to act. This is rooted in the belief that every individual has the ‘power to’ make a difference.
- Power with – collective action, the ability to act together. ‘Power with’ helps build bridges across different interests, experiences and knowledge and is about bringing together resources and strategies.
- Power within – individual or collective sense of self-worth, value, dignity. Enhancing the ‘power within’ individuals builds their capacities to imagine and raise aspirations about change.
Approaches To Power Inequity Within Organizations – Anti-Oppression Resource And Training Alliance
Dynamics of Power, Inclusion, and Exclusion – Lisa VeneKlasen with Valeria Miller, Just Associates
A New Weave of Power, People & Politics, Chapter 3: “Power and Empowerment” – Lisa VeneKlasen and Valerie Miller
The ending of colonialism and the liberation of the colonized. This requires the dismantling of the colonial government and its entire social system upon which control & exploitation are based. Decolonization, then, is a revolutionary struggle aimed at transforming the entire social system and reestablishing the sovereignty of tribal peoples, In political terms, this means a radical de-centralization of national power (i.e., the dismantling of the nation-state) and the establishment of local autonomy (community & region, traditionally the village and tribal nation). Any discussion of decolonization that does not take into consideration the destruction of the colonial system & the liberation of land & people can only lead to greater assimilation & control.
Colonization and Decolonization – Indigenous Action.org – Zine
Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex – Indigenous Action Media
Decolonization is Not a Metaphor – Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
Being responsible to yourself and those around you for your choices and the consequences of those choices.
Dreaming Accountability Mia Mingus
“The opposite of racist is not “not racist”, it’s anti-racist”. -Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Antiracism: is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracists.
Racist: one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
Antiracist: one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
Continuum on Becoming a Fully Inclusive Arts and Cultural Organization – Crossroads Ministry, Chicago, IL: Adapted from original concept by Kathy Hsieh for the Racial Equity Arts Lab Forum (REAL Forum)
Characteristics of an Emerging Anti-Racist Organization – Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D.
Organizational Assessment – Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D
This principle says that we are many things, and they all impact us. We are not only disabled, we are also each coming from a specific experience of race, class, sexuality, age, religious background, geographical location, immigration status, and more. Depending on context, we all have areas where we experience privilege, as well as areas of oppression. The term “intersectionality” was first introduced by feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 to describe the experiences of Black women, who experience both racism and sexism in specific ways. We gratefully embrace the nuance that this principle brings to our lived experiences, and the ways it shapes the perspectives we offer.
The urgency of intersectionality – Kimberlé Crenshaw
Opinion: Intersectionality – Christine Emba
Opinion: Why intersectionality can’t wait – Kimberlé Crenshaw
From Patty Berne’s “Disability Justice – a working draft” 2015
A Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We know that we are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them. We understand that all bodies are caught in these bindings of ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state and imperialism, and that we cannot separate them. These are the positions from where we struggle. We are in a global system that is incompatible with life. There is no way stop a single gear in motion — we must dismantle this machine.
At its core, structural belonging requires mutual power, access, and opportunity among all groups and individuals within a shared container (such as a society, organization, club, etc). Operationalizing belonging means that all groups and individuals can contribute to the evolution or definition of that to which they seek to belong, which may entail a profound transformation of the container itself, not just the inclusion of individuals within them.
Indeed, in contrast to important concepts related to equity like “diversity” or “inclusion,” belonging is not merely a transactional solution, such as filling seats at a table or being included in existing structures. Rather, belonging is about the transactional and the transformational: it’s building the table together—or maybe deciding we need something other than a table to meet our needs altogether.
The Self-Determination theory of cultural equity calls for full participation in and expression of cultural life for communities of color through models that are organic to those communities, and that look beyond established nonprofit arts funding and advocacy tactics.
At its zenith, Self-Determination seeks nothing less than wholesale societal and cultural transformation. With Self-Determination, ownership of cultural decisions is located within the community: it’s the community members themselves who get to shape cultural life. Advocates of Self-Determination view the current nonprofit and funding system in the United States with heavy skepticism. To them, its legacy of racism and class hegemony is still very much alive today, and will remain so as long as it continues to be largely controlled by the same wealthy, white elite class that founded it.
Is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.
Racial equity results when you cannot predict advantage or disadvantage by race. But the route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally. It will be achieved by treating everyone equitably, or justly according to their circumstances. Source: Race Matters Institute
Strategies that advance equity require an analysis of the historical and, in many cases persistent (systemic) factors that create unequal conditions and thus unequal opportunity for certain groups of people. The pursuit of equity recognizes and accounts for the complex interaction between the dynamics of identity, socio-economic forces, and policy and practice that operate in the environments and contexts in which philanthropic investments occur.
Making a commitment and a plan
Racial Equity Statement
Brief explanation of why the organization is committed to racial equity practices and the alignment of that commitment to the overall mission of the organization.
Examples (many of these include a racial equity statement as part of their plan)
California Arts Council – Racial Equity Statement
City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative – RSJI Truths
Native Arts & Cultures Foundation – Statement on Cultural Equity and Racial Justice
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Anti-Racist Organizing Principles
American Composers Forum – Statement of Commitment to Racial Equity
Pacific Northwest Ballet – Racial Equity Statement
Celebrity Series of Boston – Racial Equity Statement and Plan
Destiny Arts Center – Racial Equity Statement
Outlines the organization’s broad vision for and commitment to a specific practice and the alignment of that commitment to the overall mission of the organization as defined in their statement, and further details what the organization does to realize that statement.
NAS (formerly National Arts Strategies) – Racial Equity Principles
Decolonizing Wealth Project – Vision and Areas of Work
Artist Trust – Racial Equity Framework
Outlines how the organization will work (now and in the future) toward complying fully with policy and evaluating progress on an annual basis.
Theatre Bay Area – Anti-Racism Accountability Statement and Action Plan
Grantmakers in the Arts – Racial Equity in the Arts Funding: State of Purpose and Recommendations for Action
San Francisco Arts Commission – Racial Equity Plan 2019-2020
National Guild for Community Arts Education – Racial Equity Journey
NOTE: These three elements build on each other! Statements, policies, and plans should reflect organizational thinking about board, management, staff, volunteer, and artist composition, as well as programming and audiences/participants.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Statements or plans [H2]
DEI or DEIA (Access) or DEIJ (Justice) Initiatives
These initiatives do not inherently address racial equity, although they can and should. The CAC is committed to focusing our efforts in advancing equity and justice by discretely understanding how race is a persistent indicator for wealth, wellbeing, and cultural investment. Here is a general overview of the differences between these systems change initiatives.
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender—the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used—but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
It is important to note that many activists and thinkers critique diversity alone as a strategy. For instance, Baltimore Racial Justice Action states: “Diversity is silent on the subject of equity. In an anti-oppression context, therefore, the issue is not diversity, but rather equity. Often when people talk about diversity, they are thinking only of the “non-dominant” groups.”
The promotion of justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the underlying or root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
- Diversity ≠ equity (demographic variety is a means of advancing equity, not an end in itself)
- Diversity ≠ inclusion (presence does not ensure voice in decision-making processes)
- Equality ≠ equity (ideals of “sameness” differ from those of “fairness;” they fail to acknowledge structural imbalances and leave historically disadvantaged groups at the margins)
The degree to which diverse individuals can participate fully in the decision-making processes within an organization or group.
Access vs. Accommodations: Accommodations usually focus on the individual, formal, physical inclusion of disabled people as “special” needs. In a disability justice context access needs are seen as being universal – every body/mind has needs, not just disabled people and therefore everyone should be committed to access.