About the 21 Day Challenge
This challenge was originally developed by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. and Debby Irving and has been adapted by many organizations across the country. The challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.
We want to thank Food Solutions New England for inspiring this challenge. They were the first to adapt an exercise from Dr. Eddie Moore and Debby Irving’s book into the interactive 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, which they launched in 2014. They are entering their fifth year of coordinating the Challenge with more than 3,000 participants
Participants will be prompted daily with challenges such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, reflecting on personal experience and more. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our community, to connect with one another, to identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.
This is an exciting opportunity to dive deep into racial equity and social justice. We hope you’ll join us and accept this challenge.
Our challenge starts on Monday, March 2nd and continues (Monday –Friday) through March 30th.
Before Day 1, you will receive an introductory email explaining the purpose of the challenge. Starting on March 2nd, expect to receive daily emails containing your challenge options.
21 Day Challenge FAQ
YWCA Greater Cleveland is hosting the 21 Day Challenge to further our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. We have been doing this work for 150 years. We aren’t new to this; we’re true to this!
Starting on March 2nd, expect to receive daily emails containing your challenge options.
Tell others you’re participating and engage with other participants in the challenge by sharing your reflections on social media using the hashtags #YWCAEquityChallenge and #ABetterMeABetterCLE. We also encourage participants to send us their thoughts to share on our Blog.You can also join the 21 Day Challenge Facebook Group. The group will be closely monitored for abusive behavior and to ensure it remains a safe space for difficult conversations.
DEFINITIONS PROVIDED BY THE ASPEN INSTITUTE.
Structural Racism: A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural
representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate
racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed
privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose topractice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.
Racial Equity: Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like. In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race. In other words, racial equity would be a reality in which a person is no more or less likely to experience society’s benefits or burdens just because of the color of their skin. This is in contrast to the current state of affairs in which a person of color is more likely to live in poverty, be imprisoned, drop out of high school, be unemployed and experience poor health outcomes like diabetes, heart disease, depression and other potentially fatal diseases. Racial equity holds society to a higher standard. It demands that we pay attention not just to individual-level discrimination, but to overall social outcomes.
Systemic Racism: In many ways “systemic racism” and “structural racism” are synonymous. If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural and social psychological aspects of our currently racialized society.
White Privilege: White privilege, or “historically accumulated white privilege,” as we have come to call it, refers to whites’ historical and contemporary advantages in access to quality education, decent jobs and liveable wages, homeownership, retirement benefits, wealth and so on. The following quotation from a publication by Peggy Macintosh can be helpful in understanding what is meant by white privilege: “As a white person I had been taught about racism that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. . . White privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in every day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” (Source: Peggy Macintosh, “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” excerpted from Working Paper #189 White Privilege and Male Privilege a Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for the Study of Women (1989).)
Institutional Racism: Institutional racism refers to the policies and practices within and across institutions that, intentionally or not, produce outcomes that chronically favor, or put a racial group at a disadvantage. Poignant examples of institutional racism can be found in school disciplinary policies in which students of color are punished at much higher rates that their white counterparts, in the criminal justice system, and within many employment sectors in which day-to-day operations, as well as hiring and firing practices can significantly disadvantage workers of color. Individual Racism: Individual racism can include face-to-face or covert actions toward a person that intentionally express prejudice, hate or bias based on race.
Diversity: Diversity has come to refer to the various backgrounds and races that comprise a community, nation or other grouping. In many cases the term diversity does not just acknowledge the existence of diversity of background, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and so on, but implies an appreciation of these differences. The structural racism perspective can be distinguished from a diversity perspective in that structural racism takes direct account of the striking disparities in well-being and opportunity areas that come along with being a member of a particular group and works to identify ways in which these disparities can be eliminated.
Ethnicity: Ethnicity refers to the social characteristics that people may have in common, such as language, religion, regional background, culture, foods, etc. Ethnicity is revealed by the traditions one follows, a person’s native language, and so on. Race, on the other hand, describes categories assigned to demographic groups based mostly on observable physical characteristics, like skin color, hair texture and eye shape.
Cultural Representations: Cultural representations refer to popular stereotypes, images, frames and narratives that are socialized and reinforced by media, language and other forms of mass communication and “common sense.” Cultural representations can be positive or negative, but from the perspective of the dismantling structural racism analysis, too often cultural representations depict people of color in ways that are dehumanizing, perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, and have the overall effect of allowing unfair treatment within the society as a whole to seem fair, or ‘natural.’
National Values: National values are behaviors and characteristics that we as members of a society are taught to value and enact. Fairness, equal treatment, individual responsibility, and meritocracy are examples of some key national values in the United States. When looking at national values through a structural racism lens, however, we can see that there are certain values that have allowed structural racism to exist in ways that are hard to detect. This is because these national values are referred to in ways that ignore historical realities. Two examples of such national values are ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘individualism,’ which convey the idea that people control their fates regardless of social position, and that individual behaviors and choices alone determine material outcomes.
Progress & Retrenchment: This term refers to the pattern in which progress is made through the passage of legislation, court rulings and other formal mechanisms that aim to promote racial equality. Brown v. Board of Education and the Fair Housing Act are two prime examples of such progress. But retrenchment refers to the ways in which this progress is very often challenged, neutralized or undermined. In many cases after a measure is enacted that can be counted as progress, significant backlashes—retrenchment—develop in key public policy areas. Some examples include the gradual
erosion of affirmative action programs, practices among real estate professionals that maintain segregated neighborhoods, and failure on the part of local governments to enforce equity oriented policies such as inclusionary zoning laws.