DAY 1:
UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMIC RACISM

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Welcome to the 21-Day Equity Challenge!

We cannot cease in confronting our country's history and relationship to identity. It is time for us to take a closer look at the inequities that are deeply rooted in our systems and institutions and work together to create an America where every individual has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and identity. Over the next 21 days, we will explore difficult topics, like structural racism, segregation, and privilege, to open up dialogue on how we can be champions of equity in our personal and professional lives.

Before you get started, if you haven't done so already, please fill out this pre-event survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the challenge with us. We also encourage you to download your Day 1 Journal Page – a tool to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the challenge has to offer.

Today, we will define race as a concept. However, before sharing this definition we ask that you reflect on your personal understanding of race by answering following questions:

  • What is race to you?
  • Is race science based, or a social construct?
  • How does your race impact you on a day to day basis?
  • Are there any unique events that have occurred exclusively because of your race?

After thinking on the questions above, feel free to utilize the resources below to learn more about racial equity and the role that it can play in the lives of not only yourself, but your peers and coworkers as well.

Remember, we have a surplus of content to provide multiple perspectives. Try to keep your learning to 10-15 minutes, unless you are REALLY intrigued by the day’s content. We’d also like to bring up the idea of additional learning over the weekend. This is all to say that we want everyone to digest this content slowly to avoid burn out and losing interest over the duration of the challenge. Please find our shared definition of race below.

Race: A socially constructed way of grouping people based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. The ideology of race has become embedded in our identities, institutions, and culture and is used as a basis for discrimination and domination.

 

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…

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READ:

Read the article Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs by Angela Onwuachi-Willig on how race is not a proven concept, but instead a social construct.

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WATCH:

Watch the TEDx Talk Unpacking My Baggage: Re-framing Racial Identity by Abbi Van Hook to see an alternative way of looking at racial identity based on varying cultures. (2:47)

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REVIEW:

Take a few minutes to review the definitions found in the Racial Equity Tools Glossary.

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WATCH:

Watch Growing Pains from TEDxYouth@Davenport — A collaboration of three lifelong friends, they recount their very different experiences growing up in very similar situations. Nia, Lily, and Nina express their unique and similar struggles, using their voice in this story-based speaking performance. (5:05)

DAY 1 JOURNAL PAGE

Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a free journal page for today.

Journal Page

DISCUSSION GUIDE

If you would like to form a small group or team to participate in the Challenge, download this free discussion guide to help facilitate discussion.

Journal Page

 


 

NEXT TOPIC: THE EFFECTS OF RACISM

 


 

CONVERSATION PIECE: Art Addressing Equity

Weiwei

Artist: Ai Weiwei   •   Title: Self Portrait in Legos   •   Date of piece: 2017

LEGO bricks, Image: 15 × 15 in. (38.1 × 38.1 cm.), Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of John and Mary Pappajohn, 2017.33 Photo Credit: Rich Sanders. Courtesy of Ai Wei Wei and the For-Site Foundation.

“Ai Wei Wei is an artist and social activist who has used his art to address the plight of refugees and political prisoners worldwide. Both a refugee and formerly a political prisoner in China, Ai’s self-portrait in Legos follows his large installation of Lego portraits of political prisoners from around the world at Alcatraz Prison in 2014.”

Jeff Fleming
Des Moines Art Center

 

Thank you to the members of BRAVO Greater Des Moines for curating the Equity Challenge Gallery, a collection of art in various media that speaks to the issues of equity in our society.

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