group of people putting their hands together

Welcome to the Michigan League for Public Policy’s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge! We would like to thank Food Solutions New England, whose Challenge we have used as a model and adapted to highlight racial inequity and our related policy priorities here in Michigan.

Several years ago, the League made a decision to apply a racial equity lens to the anti-poverty work at the heart of our mission. The disparities in health, wealth and well-being that we seek to eradicate are largely a result of racism enshrined in public policy over the course of U.S. history. Today, we cannot hope to achieve our mission of economic security for all Michiganders without understanding the origins of the concept of race, how it influences us as individuals and as an organization, and how it functions to preserve inequity in our laws, institutions and systems.

We would like to thank the following partners for their knowledge, perspectives and guidance in putting the Challenge together:

Fay Givens, Choctaw/Cherokee, Executive Director of American Indian Services, Inc.

Dr. Kay McGowan, Choctaw/Cherokee, Cultural Anthropologist, Adjunct Professor at Eastern Michigan University

Dana Ashlock, Program Director, Jackson Community Foundation

Dr. Andre Fields, Associate Professor/Counselor, Grand Rapids Community College

And special thanks to Julie Cassidy, Senior Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy, for leading this project.

Select a Day

Day 1: Introduction: What is this and why are we doing it?

Fighting racism isn’t a discrete event, it’s an ongoing process—watch this 12-minute talk by Jay Smooth, who compares it to the daily practice of dental hygiene. Conventional wisdom says it takes about three weeks to form a new habit, so Dr. Eddie Moore, Dr. Marguerite Penick-Parks and Debby Irving developed the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge to help all of us cultivate self-awareness and intentionality to effect social change.

You can use this log to track your participation and note the feelings and insights you experience along the way, and you can discuss each day of the challenge with your fellow participants here. If you’re inclined to share your thoughts on social media you can use the hashtag #mlpp21days. We ask you to start by recording your initial thoughts about this activity: where are you today in terms of your understanding of racial equity issues and what do you hope to get out of the challenge?

Whether you’re a new ally in the racial equity movement or a seasoned veteran, we invite you to join us for this exercise in self-reflection, learning and connection. Don’t feel pressured to complete every listed activity each day. We’ve presented a variety of options so you can engage based on your learning style and the time you have available. This isn’t a formal homework assignment; the point is simply to make a habit of doing something every day to broaden your perspective, identify topics for deeper learning on your own, and better equip yourself to combat White supremacy.

At our annual policy forum, coming up in November, there will be an opportunity for participants to provide feedback on the challenge and converse about how we can continue strengthening Michigan’s anti-racist network.

Day 2: Locating ourselves and racial identity formation

European and White American colonizers have long relied on the Western model of science to validate their designation of other peoples as biologically inferior—even less human, in some cases—in order to justify the taking of those people’s labor, land and other resources.  However, as this three-minute Vox video explains, far from being fixed biological traits, racial classifications change over time to advance the economic and political aims of those in power.

Given the subjective nature of the concept of race, we invite you to reflect on the different stages of racial identity development. You may find it helpful to consult the appropriate worksheets from Sandra Chapman and watch some of the videos from The New York Times on racial identity in America. How do you think about your own racial identity and its relevance to your life, work, studies and/or volunteerism?

Day 3: The power of self-definition

As this piece by Cherokee and Blackfeet writer Mariah Gladstone highlights, the U.S. government has long exploited the construct of race to wrongly define Native Americans as a racial category. Such framing dehumanizes them and obscures the fact that they are members of distinct sovereign nations with their own systems of definition and governance. This has allowed Whites to adopt policies promoting the genocide of Indigenous people, the destruction of their families and the repression of their traditions. Since White colonizers arrived, they have taken 96% of Indigenous peoples’ land (two-minute video). 

Fay Givens, Executive Director of American Indian Services, explains, “Because our status is not based on race, our relationship with the federal government is different from other groups’. We are separate, sovereign nations within the boundaries of the United States. There are over 3,000 laws that apply only to us. We enforce the Treaties (six-minute video) that were in place prior to the formation of the United States, which have more legal weight than the U.S. Constitution. Every day we enforce our rights in quiet ways the mainstream never hears about.”

One way for non-Indigenous people to begin interrupting colonial ways of thinking and the oppression that results from it is to learn about the history of where you currently live, work, study and/or volunteer. Who inhabited the land prior to the arrival of Europeans? What happened to the Indigenous peoples and their practices? Where are they now and what is happening to them? What Indigenous people live in your area today? How do they define themselves? What fights for resistance and survival are they currently engaged in?

You might consult this online map, which should not be seen as a perfect representation of official or legal boundaries of Indigenous nations. To learn about boundaries and historic territories, contact the nations/peoples in question. Visit institutions dedicated to the honor and preservation of Indigenous cultures in your area, such as the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

Day 4: The Intersection of white supremacy and patriarchy

American capitalism is billed as a system that affords anyone who is willing to work hard the opportunity to build wealth and enjoy a high quality of life. The reality, however, is that millions of Americans work long hours for low pay and under difficult conditions. These jobs lacking benefits, safety, employment security and family-supporting wages are disproportionately done by people of color, particularly women. It is their labor, concentrated in the service sector, that has made it possible for White families to pursue more lucrative opportunities and accumulate intergenerational wealth. We invite you to read the following articles and reflect on how racism, sexism and xenophobia intersect to exploit women of color and keep them from enjoying their fair share of the wealth generated by their labor.

Capitalism is Built on the Backs of Black Women

The Wage Gap is Even Worse for Native Women

Study documents Latina domestic workers’ economic hardship

We encourage you to check out the agenda of League partner Mothering Justice and the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to learn more about how you can advance policy that acknowledges the real value of the critical work done largely by women—especially women of color—and promotes working conditions that respect their safety and dignity. We also ask you to think about steps you can take within your organization and your personal life in furtherance of these goals.

We also urge you to examine how racism is manifested in acts of gender violence and society’s response to those acts. This Catalyst article explains how sexual predators and the dominant society exploit sexualized stereotypes of women and girls of color to excuse or justify continued crimes against them.

Today, the rate of sexual assault of Native women is more than twice the national average. While perpetrators of sexual assault are generally the same race as their victims, non-Native men are responsible for the majority of assaults of Native women. Furthermore, as the Indian Law Resource Center explains, U.S. law restricts the authority of Indian nations to prosecute non-Native people for crimes they commit on reservations. In this article, you can learn about efforts in Michigan to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and connect to national campaigns for justice system reforms that uphold tribal sovereignty and value the lives of Native Americans who are disproportionately targeted for gender-based violence.

Day 5: Levels of Racism: How and where do we see these operating? 

As a policy-focused organization, the League recognizes that racism’s harm comes not only from the attitudes and actions of individuals, but in how those attitudes are built into the larger social and political institutions and structures that affect every aspect of our lives.

We invite you to consider the different levels of racism by watching this six-minute video of Dr. Camara Jones and reading this Oppression Monitor description. (If you have more time, Dr. Jones goes into greater depth in this longer talk entitled “Allegories on Race and Racism.”)

Think about how you typically think about and see racism operating in your life, work and community. Are certain levels more obvious than others? If you are addressing racism in your work and life, do you tend to be focused on one level more than another? Might you consider focusing on other levels or partnering with those who do (social workers doing trauma work, for example, or community organizers working to change policy, or culture workers making new narratives)? What might this look like?

Take time during your day to observe the levels of racism that are alive in the spaces you move through. Some of those levels might be visible and some quite hidden and “embedded” in other systems around you.

Day 6: The Intergenerational Trauma of Racism

One of the many insidious aspects of racism is that it harms people not just at a particular point in time, but over generations. The violence, poverty, family separation, social isolation and myriad indignities carried out in service to White supremacy can have devastating impacts on individual health and community resilience. To add insult to injury, the mainstream healthcare system meant to help people recover from physical and psychological trauma was itself established in a White supremacist society and often perpetuates abuse of people of color.

This five-minute TedEd video explains how trauma can cause biological changes that leave people vulnerable to stress, disease and other poor health conditions. These short videos from University of Minnesota Extension and Dr. Joy DeGruy discuss the intergenerational trauma done to Native Americans and African Americans, respectively.

We ask you to think about where you see the enduring impact of historical trauma in your community today. What current events, including contemporary policy decisions, are creating the conditions for transmitting trauma to future generations? How can individuals and communities heal from the injuries inflicted by racism and how do we ensure that our healthcare systems and other institutions are structured to promote healing for people and communities of color?

We urge you to join the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign in standing against the trauma resulting from the Trump administration’s racialized approach to immigration policy.

As Fay Givens, Executive Director of American Indian Services, explains, “The Trump administration is again justifying the barbaric practice of incarcerating Indian children to further political and financial goals. The U.S. government refers to refugees seeking asylum as illegal immigrants but they are Indigenous people from the Americas doing what they have to do to survive and what they have legal rights to do. Prior to the European invasion of our country there were no borders on this continent we call Turtle Island.”

Connect with Cradle Kalamazoo and WIN Network Detroit to learn about promoting equity in maternal and infant health, and check out One Love Global to get involved in addressing intergenerational trauma and poverty in Michigan’s urban communities.

Day 7: Weekend Reflection

While reflecting on this week’s prompts, we invite you to take some time to get quiet and reflect back on week one of the Challenge.

Is there anything that you see differently based on your participation so far? How does this impact how you think about your life/work/volunteerism/studies? Is there anything you are inspired to do differently?

As the levels of racism we learned about last week show, internalized racism is one way in which oppression plays out and is perpetuated and exacerbated. To learn more about internalized racism, consider this website and especially focus on the sections providing more detail about “internalized racial inferiority” and “internalized white superiority.

We invite you to read this Salon piece about how internalized racial superiority promotes entitlement and inhibits psychological and emotional development among White people.

As you read about the features, manifestations and consequences of internalized inferiority and internalized white superiority, what comes up for you? How does this connect with what you experience and/or observe in your work, studies and community? In what ways and to what extent do you feel you have internalized racism?

Do you currently focus on healing from internalized racism in your work, studies or activities? If so, what does that look like? If not, how might you begin? What steps can you take to help shift consciousness and support transformation around the traumatizing impacts of racism?

Interpersonal racism is real. It may not always play itself out in outrageous and overtly intentional ways, but rather show up in subtle and ignorant ways. All people—especially White people—have a role in calling out racism and bigotry, and this can be a difficult and uncomfortable process. Even if it isn’t difficult or uncomfortable for some, it can be difficult to call out racism and bigotry in a way that is ultimately productive. Effectively inviting someone who has said or done something that perpetuates racism to change or to consider changing can be quite perplexing.

We ask you to read Detour Spotting for Anti-Racists and 9 phrases allies can say when called out instead of getting defensive, and reflect on how you have responded to criticism of something you’ve said or done. How did you feel internally? How did those feelings affect your response to the person who pointed out that what you said or did was problematic? After reading these articles, is there anything you would do differently in the future?

We also invite you to engage with some of the following resources and consider how you see your own role and responsibility around “calling in” (as opposed to “calling out” or shaming) others in your family, community, workplace, or school:

Interrupting Racism: Our Role and Responsibility as White Allies

Southern Poverty Law Center’s guidance on addressing bigotry in a variety of everyday situations.

A Trip to the Grocery Store, a 4-minute video about leveraging privilege to intervene.

Are you comfortable with intervening around racist behavior? If so, what have you found effective? What has not worked?  If you have not been able to intervene productively, why not? What is needed to be able to do this?

As a segue into the next two days of the Challenge, we invite you to watch this 16-minute Ted Talk by Baratunde Thurston regarding calls to the police to gain a better understanding of how racism at the individual level is translated into racism at the institutional and structural levels.

Institutional racism can reside in both the formal and informal workings of organizations and institutions. It exists in formal policies, for example, and in unwritten and unspoken norms of behavior.

Here we invite you to shine a light on your workplace, school, place of worship, or organization. Consider where the organization falls on this continuum on becoming an anti-racist multicultural organization.

As you do your assessment, perhaps with others, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. What comes up for you? Also consider what might be done to nudge this organization/community to be more fully anti-racist, equitable and liberatory. Consider sharing your observations with others. What are their reactions and observations?

Looking at institutions on a broader level, we invite you to read this article about school district residency requirements in Grosse Pointe. The article provides an example of how policies that appear race-neutral on the surface can have the impact of racial exclusivity in practice. What other examples of policy, either in government or the private sector, have you seen that function this way? How are such instances of institutional racism connected to racism at the lower levels (interpersonal and internalized)?

For more resources on making institutional change, we invite you to connect with League partner New Detroit.

The cumulative impacts of racism across time, institutions and policy areas form systemic or structural racism. This short video, the Unequal Opportunity Race, provides an overview of how multiple vectors of racism converge to form a pipeline to well-being for Whites and a comprehensive barrier for people of color.

As Fay Givens, Executive Director of American Indian Services, explains, “The number one source of discrimination for American Indians is the State and Federal government. We know what our problems are, but we are never provided the resources we need to solve them. We have had over the years thousands of conversations, conferences, meetings, etc. related to disparities in health and education but there is no will to make things better in spite of their talk.” Read this statement by National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel on a recent report detailing the federal government’s continuing failure to uphold its numerous obligations under treaties with Indian nations.

For other examples of structural racism at work, see this Jamila Michener article about Medicaid work requirements and this short video about the American justice system, narrated by Ta-Nehisi Coates. What distinct threads do you see knitted together to create an all-encompassing system of racism?

Through its Prison Gerrymandering Project, the Prison Policy Initiative shows us how the mass incarceration resulting from structural racism is used to distort political representation and sustain the racial power imbalance.

The League works to dismantle structural racism through research and advocacy across a broad scope of policy areas and by working with many coalitions of diverse stakeholders, such as the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI).

Some of the League’s local partners in working to end structural racism:

Kalamazoo: Eliminating Racism and Creating/Celebrating Equity (ERACCE)

Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Kalamazoo

 Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community (ISAAC)

Detroit: Detroit People’s Platform

Thinking about the particular ways in which your work, studies and volunteerism focus on combating racism, are there opportunities for partnerships with others whose work may be targeted at different policy areas or mechanisms of racial injustice? Is your work connected to the work of others in ways that might not be obvious? What might these partnerships look like and what steps can you take to engage unusual allies?

Work for racial justice in our various systems must include naming and de-centering whiteness, White privilege and White superiority/supremacy. One way to do this is to understand that there is a continuum of White superiority that is not simply about what may come to our minds as the most extreme forms. We suggest looking at this framework to get a better idea of the continuum.

What comes up for you as you review this framework – thoughts, feelings, ideas, images?

For more about whiteness, see these short articles: About Whiteness and Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person.

Another important step is to understand how white cultural norms dominate many of our workplaces, communities and public institutions. Here is one take on what that can look like. As you read through the standards and norms in the left column, what are your reactions? What currently shows up problematically in your workplace or community? Which antidotes (in the right column) resonate with you or have you seen implemented? To prepare for next week, when we’ll dive more deeply into the idea of organizational culture, think about both the formal policies and the informal/unwritten rules of your organization that could be reflecting/reinforcing White supremacy and what steps can be taken to change them.

If you are a person of color working to de-center whiteness in yourself, check out Donna Bivens’ definition of internalized racism to explore the impact of internalized racial inferiority and oppression on people of color at different levels. (If you have more time, these ideas are discussed in further detail in Chapter 5 of Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building.)

There are many ways that white people can show up as “accomplices” (as opposed to allies) in the struggle for racial justice and work to de-center and dismantle whiteness. See some ideas on this site. Which have you used or seen used? What else would you add?

In a speech at the 1985 United Nations Decade for Women conference, Gangulu activist, artist and scholar Dr. Lilla Watson said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Although White supremacist attitudes, actions and policies inflict the most harm on individuals and communities of color, ultimately racism harms everyone—even White people who consciously engage in it in order to gain or maintain some type of social advantage. In the words of Fay Givens, Executive Director of American Indian Services, “In Native societies, no one did without, no child was an orphan, all elders were loved and cared for. Material goods were viewed as a burden. Wealth was your grandchildren. There was no incarceration. The United States has created an underclass of people made up of people of color. Instead of taking responsibility for what they have created they disrespect and demean the poor—always fear someone will get something for nothing, never acknowledging their action that created the dysfunction in society.”

We invite you to explore the following resources to better understand how racism’s costs radiate beyond its direct targets, with profound implications for public health, community strength, economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, knowledge production and innovation:

Chicago region Metropolitan Planning Council report, The Cost of Segregation

10-minute video on the Asian Model Minority Myth

5-minute interview with Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness

Conversation with Nishnaabeg activist, scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on Indigenous knowledge and climate change

What thoughts come to your mind? How might our world be different if Indigenous science and economic systems had never been dismissed as inferior to Western models? How much further might we have advanced in terms of knowledge, technology and health if educational and employment opportunities had not been denied to so many people based solely on their race throughout U.S. history? What impact does acknowledgement of the catastrophic costs of racism have on your work/studies/volunteerism?

Reflect on the different solutions we have explored so far for addressing the different levels of racism and White superiority/supremacy. Which ones jump out that you want to use or explore more? Are there others that come to mind or that you are already using? Please share! Consider having a conversation with someone else about your thoughts, feelings and discoveries around ways to undo racism and white supremacy. Here is a resource list of racial reconciliation and healing tools, processes, and case studies from Racial Equity Tools. We also urge you to check out Race Forward, an important resource for the League in our equity work.

Looking even more inward, we invite you to find some quiet time to get centered and to consider the past two weeks of your participation in the Challenge. What do you sense/feel and where are you physically? Intellectually? Emotionally? Spiritually? What are these sensations telling you? Consider checking in with someone else about where you each are in your Challenge journey and work for racial justice.

Stories hold tremendous power in our world, work and lives. As writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said: “Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

We encourage you to watch Adichie’s talk “The Danger of the Single Story,” and to note your reactions and reflections. What single stories have you held or heard in your work/volunteerism/studies? Who and what do these stories promote and privilege? Are they advancing justice? Are they uplifting those who are marginalized? Are they inspiring new possibilities for equity and liberation?

In pursuit of challenging the prevailing story about the people we serve, the League is very excited to host Trabian Shorters, the founder of BMe, as the keynote speaker at our annual policy forum on November 12. Often in the nonprofit world, we define people by the problems they face and their lack of resources and capacity to address them. Mr. Shorters offers us a more empowering alternative in asset framing—defining people by their strengths and aspirations. For a better understanding of how this shift in perspective works, we invite you to read this blog post.

Do these ideas have you rethinking your approach to advocacy on behalf of families with low incomes and communities of color? They’re certainly prompting us here at the League to reimagine how we conduct and present our research and engage with Michigan communities and policymakers. We ask you to hold asset framing as a central theme in your mind as we complete the final week of the Challenge, and to join us at our forum next week. You’ll hear Trabian Shorters’ compelling talk, have the chance to workshop some of his concepts in relation to your own work and connect with others acting to combat racism across the state.

White supremacy is perpetuated through the definition of European-based knowledge systems and cultural markers as advanced, rational and objective. This allows White people to believe their perspectives are complete and accurate, and their decisions driven by logic and evidence. In contrast, the philosophies, cultures and science of people of color are portrayed as subjective, emotional and driven by mythology. Of course, this is merely a cover that Whites have used for centuries to justify the oppression of people of color in favor of their own self-interest. For a deeper look at how dominant groups exploit the concepts of knowledge and truth to maintain power, check out the work of sociologist and Black feminist thought leader Patricia Hill Collins.

Ocean Mercier: Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science (3-minute video)

In the modern-day U.S., this colonialist mindset shows up in myriad ways, one of the most harmful being in the educational system. We invite you to read the following articles about the need for school systems to examine how White supremacist ideas continue to corrupt their educational model and actively prevent students of color from achieving their full potential:

Breaking down our bilingual double standard

Native American Identity and Learning

In the words of Fay Givens, “American Indians have a wide view of education; it involves things the mainstream would fail to call education.  We are considered poorly educated by western standards when in most cases an Indian child by the age of ten has gone hunting, fishing, can fillet a fish and is learning to tan a hide, can make a basket or a mask for ceremonies.  Many have already made a hand drum.” Indeed, many youth are drawing from a vast body of Indigenous knowledge and cultural assets to take leadership roles in addressing some of society’s most pressing problems.

As you read these articles, we ask you to think about ways to make change in our school systems. If you work in a school or have a child who attends school, what kinds of conversations can you start or join around this idea? If you’re a White person, what can you do to support people of color who are already fighting for culture change in our schools and bearing the cost for doing so? Thinking back to last week, what are some ways in which you can use your White privilege for good in this space?

We invite you to watch Detroit Natives Reclaim Their City’s Story (4-minute video) and learn about the Aadizookaan, a Detroit creative collective that draws on the strength of Indigenous knowledge systems to promote equity and healing from injustice in the city. In Kalamazoo, the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) works to educate the community on the importance of the region’s African American history.  As you think about how White supremacist perspectives have shaped the story of your own community, we ask you to explore local movements that promote accurate history and more liberatory concepts of education and knowledge.

Last week in our exploration of institutional racism, we touched briefly on organizational culture. We’d like to dive into this topic more deeply today, specifically the idea of “cultural fit.” This encompasses all of the things beyond the clearly defined experience, credentials and qualifications employers might list in a job posting—criteria that are often unwritten, highly subjective and nebulous.

This type of screening for camaraderie among staff can promote unity of purpose and process, enabling the organization to function like a well-oiled machine. But it can also foster insular thinking and stifle innovation by writing off employees who would bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the organization. An organization too focused on cultural fit is probably missing out on some workers who would make it more successful, which is why some are replacing “cultural fit” with “cultural add”: rather than assessing how well a prospective employee would fit in, asking what’s new that the applicant could bring to the table.

Forbes article: Why hiring for “culture fit” might be holding you back

Tech entrepreneur Chandra Arthur: The Cost of Code Switching (11-minute video)

Nonprofit AF post: Why we need to end the culture of cultural fit

As you engage with these resources, consider how your organization views diversity—where would you say it is on the cultural fit/cultural add spectrum? How might the approach to recruitment and hiring be changed to better reflect the “cultural add” perspective? For people who already work for your organization, how inclusive is the general environment? Are there current employees whose strengths aren’t recognized and valued as such because of the prevailing culture? What can be done to change this dynamic?

Check out the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion as well as the League’s hiring guide for ideas on promoting racial equity in the workplace.

Since the arrival of Europeans in North America, public policy has reflected the paternalistic notion that people of color belong to primitive cultures, deficient communities and flawed families, and can hope to achieve civilization and well-being only by abandoning their roots in favor of White cultural standards. Several centuries of forced assimilation, however, have shown that being torn away from their cultures has had a catastrophic impact on individuals and communities of color, leading to the poor outcomes that White supremacist culture interprets as confirmation of White superiority.

In this episode of NPR’s Code Switch (27 minutes), reporter Rebecca Hersher explains, “So one thing that anthropologists say is, culture is like a scaffold and like a safety net. So it’s a scaffolding that you can attach your dreams, your desires, your vision for the future to it. But then it’s also there to fall back on when things get hard.”

We invite you to explore the ways in which different communities of color may find healing and empowerment in their culture, heritage and family ties. How do these examples challenge the prevailing narrative that adherence to White cultural norms is a cure-all for (and not the cause of) the social ills affecting communities of color? How do they contrast with the notion that traits promoting health and well-being are inherent in and exclusive to Whites? Can you think of other examples? How can we lift up these stories so that their lessons may better influence our own work and larger public policy conversations?

Cultural Strengths of Latino Families: Firm Scaffolds for Children and Youth

A video about tribal healing-to-wellness courts (6 minutes) and some examples of these courts in Michigan: Bay Mills (Gnoozhekaaning) Tribal Court and the Odawa Waabshki-Miigwan (White Feather) program

16-minute talk by Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of Girl Trek

The role of media in the maintenance of White supremacy cannot be overstated. The news we consume, the movies and television shows we watch, the books we read, and the ads we see all condition us to view ourselves and people of other races in certain ways that fuel the power imbalance behind persistent social inequities. We invite you to engage with the following resources and think about how underrepresentation and misrepresentation contribute to the “single story.” How do these single stories foster racism at the different levels we’ve discussed in the Challenge? What can you do to create, seek out, and lift up more complex, truthful and positive depictions of marginalized people?

The Roots of Negative Stereotypes (3-minute video)

Guardian article: When the media misrepresents black men, the consequences are felt in the real world

Middle Eastern and Muslim Stereotypes (7-minute video)

Constance Wu on why representation matters (2-minute video)

Swinomish and Tulalip photographer Matika Wilbur’s Project 562

Spend some time thinking about how home and family life shape the ideas children develop about race and broader social norms. One of the most common ways that perceptions about racial identity of the self and others are transmitted is through books. Check out these articles regarding the lack of diversity in children’s books and how to read with your children using a race-conscious lens. Explore Dr. Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature blog. You might find the Twitter hashtag #diversityjedi helpful as well.

As racial equity advocates, what responsibility do we have with regard to the media we consume and create? What are some effective ways you’ve seen or used to have conversations with children about the images and ideas they receive through the media?

We invite you to connect with the Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media to join the campaign to end the use of racist mascots in our state. We also encourage you to explore the following resources to incorporate diverse representation in your work and help dispel harmful prevailing narratives in favor of more nuanced, accurate and empowering ones:

Reclaiming Native Truth– be sure to scroll down to the “Share Our Message” section for some guides you can use in your work to change the narrative about Native Americans.

Disabled and Here offers free stock photography featuring disabled and LGBTQ Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

American Indian Film Institute

A guide to organizations bringing diversity to public media

What are your main takeaways from this year’s Challenge? Where are you now compared to before you started? How do you feel? What new knowledge or insights do you have? What hopes? Is there anything about this experience you’d like to share with others in your life?

What commitments are you making to stretch your learning from these 21 days to the rest of the year? What actions have you taken, or will you take, as a result of this experience?

Today’s prompt builds on yesterday’s reflection about how the Challenge has guided you to think and act differently, perhaps more boldly, on this journey of racial equity and justice.

How will you put any of your new commitments into action, starting as soon as Monday? What kinds of supports do you need to do so? Do you have those supports or can you organize them into being, perhaps with help from others?

There is work to do on your own, but much of the change we need will happen in collaboration with others as well. We are in this together. Who are your potential accomplices at school, work, home or in your community?

Also, consider committing to an ongoing practice, a way to chronicle the year ahead through writing, drawing, music or some other expression. Choose something that will work for you so that you can continue to reflect and integrate your learning from this Challenge, find opportunities for healing if needed and also see how your dreams for the future can begin to unfold. Let your own “garden” for justice blossom and extend across boundaries!

Thank you for joining us in taking this Challenge and for your commitment to advancing racial equity in Michigan! We hope to see you at our policy forum in Lansing on November 12 to debrief and talk about how to make the Challenge more valuable. If you’re not able to make it to our policy forum, you are welcome to submit feedback via email to our communications director, Laura Ross, at lauramr@mlpp.org.

Contact Us

Have a question for the League? Send us a message!