On Election Day, we resolved to dedicate our blog to the discussion of racism and the use of strategic communications as a lever to dismantle it. As our first Black president says goodbye and we brace for Donald Trump, this undertaking feels so much more imperative, especially for those of us who’ve made a career out of fighting for the greater good.
True change agents must be well versed in the latest research and thinking about racial equity – as race intersects with pretty much every other issue in society, from healthcare to affordable housing; reproductive rights to climate change. And discussing racial diversity without addressing inequity is inadequate – calls for unity without the honest acknowledgement of history and the lived experience of people of color will always fail. The days of getting away with “faquity”– that is fake equity – are over. It’s time to replace color-blind talk with color-bold conversation.
Thankfully, there’s an abundance of solid resources out there from experts and organizations dedicated to racial equity. The following 10 are my current go-tos for research, practical tools and resources to help us understand the roots and nuances of racism and bias, and work toward change.
- When we address people’s fears and unconscious bias directly, we can successfully shift their attitudes and opinions. LightBox Collaborative has worked with Welcoming America to develop several communications toolkits applying this theory, including “America Needs All Of Us: A toolkit for talking about bias, race and change,” and most recently, “Stand Together: Messaging About Muslims and Refugees in Challenging Time.”
- Our friends at Opportunity Agenda have not only invented the brilliant social justice super hero Helvetika Bold, but they have a thorough library of resource including the 10 Lessons for Talking About Race webinar, the “Social Justice Communications Toolkit”, and other communications toolkits like the social justice phrase guide, as well as racial justice talking points, messaging memos, and reports.
- For over a decade now, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been adding indispensible reports and resources to their Race Matters Collection. Highlights include the basic tips for keeping conversations about race productive in “How to Talk about Race” and “Embracing Equity: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equity and Inclusion Within Your Organization,” which outlines how organizations that work directly with systems, technical assistance providers, and communities can incorporate race equity and inclusion at every stage of their work. How-to guides like “Advancing Better Outcomes for All Children” explain how to report data using a racial equity lens, and other practical ways to affect change.
- Race Forward’s pivotal work “Moving the Race Conversation Forward” provides a content analysis of mainstream media and seven harmful racial discourse practices, which reinforce the common misconception that racism is simply a problem of rare, isolated, individual attitudes, and actions. Most recently, Race Forward partnered with Culture Lab to develop a treasure trove of visual storytelling tools to help social change activists imagine and design stories that engage audiences more deeply and increase the influence of campaigns.
- The Center for Social Inclusion’s “Talking About Race Toolkit” uses “affirm, counter, transform” as messaging steps to not only help win important policy fights but to change the popular narrative about race.
- Net Impact’s Dwight Smith recounts, “It’s become increasingly clear that people of color and white folks alike are fed up and more ready than ever to engage… When it comes to tackling the issue of racial inequity, we have to combine that eagerness with preparation.” Dwight’s preparation comes in the form of the “8 R’s of Talking About Race: How to Have Meaningful Conversations” – respect, reflect, resign, research, relearn, reset, reboot, and recognize bias and privilege.
- MTV’s Look Different Campaign has some nifty interactive tools to address racial bias, including tips on how to respond when you hear racist remarks, resources for educators, and even a 7-day racial bias cleanse.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project has a thorough selection of articles, online tools, and other resources to support educators in talking about race effectively and improving the school experience for children of color.
- This handout from our friends at the Western States Center explains what it means to “name and frame” racism, how to do it, and why it’s important. It is part of their seminal report “Dismantling Racism” developed in 2001 but still incredibly useful and relevant today.
- Then there’s the mother lode: Racial Equity Tools. From the fundamentals of talking about race, racism, and bias, to deep research, thought pieces, interviews, and videos, this website has it all. Here is their run-down of resources about communicating for racial justice, and here’s their comprehensive list of framing and messaging tools for racial equity communications work.
If you have others resources you rely on in your communications work to change the conversation on race, please share them in the comments section!
LightBox Collaborator Anna Ghosh works to change the conversation on race everyday through her client work and personal life.