21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

Thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in the 2020 YWCA 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge! 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.

Participants were prompted daily with challenges such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, reflecting on personal experiences, and more. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our community, connect with one another, and identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.

YWCA also facilitated conversation in the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge Facebook group, where participants discussed the content and engaged with others taking the challenge.

If you weren't able to participate live, this is still an exciting opportunity to dive deep into racial equity and social justice. See the archives of the content below.

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 YWCA Greater Cleveland for inspiring this challenge. They, in turn, were inspired by Food Solutions New England — they were the first to adapt an exercise from Dr. Moore and Irving’s book into the interactive 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, which they launched in 2014.


Daily Challenge Archive

Watch this video that explains that, while race and racism have a real and significant impact on our lives, race is a social construct and one that has changed over time. None of the broad categories that come to mind when we talk about race can capture an individual’s unique story. For more information, read this article on how science and genetics are reshaping our understanding of race.

Read this article defining anti-racism and why the term is so powerful. If you are ready for a deep dive, you can listen to the podcast featuring historian Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist.

Watch this video about the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist. YWCA's 21-Day Challenge will encourage you and give you tools to be an anti-racist because it doesn't require that you always know the right thing to say or do in any given situation. It asks that you take action and work against racism wherever you find it including, and perhaps most especially, in yourself.

Read this article about the African American suffragists who fought for the right to vote, while fighting racist backlash from the movement's white leadership, many of whom did not believe that any Black person should have the right to vote before white women.

Watch this video that re-frames the way we look at the suffrage movement and encourages us to do more to honor and remember the Black women who bravely fought for universal suffrage.

Read about five amazing women of color who bravely fought for the abolition of slavery, the rights of women, and civil rights in the United States. They pioneered the idea of intersectionality more than a century before the term would be officially coined in 1989.

From the 1890's to the 1960's literacy tests were designed to disenfranchise people of color from voting (white men were exempt). Print out and try to complete this test. Be sure to set a timer before you start, you would have been given 10 minutes to finish.

View this interactive timeline of the history of the Voting Rights Act and see how access to the vote has been expanded and restricted over time.

Read this article highlighting the role that the Voting Rights Act played in protecting Asian Americans' voting rights. Until 1952, federal policy barred immigrants of Asian descent from becoming U.S. citizens and having access to the vote.

Read this article and see how the fight for universal suffrage began and how modern voter suppression tactics continue to deny the vote to people of color.

The right of Native Americans to vote in U.S. elections was not recognized until 1948. Read this article on the systemic barriers to voting that Native Americans face today and what steps are being taken to protect the suffrage of Indigenous people.

150 years after the 15th Amendment was passed, barriers to voting remain. Learn about how social media, gerrymandering, access to polling places, and other strategies have all been used to limit access to the ballot box.

Read this article about how the census was historically used as a tool to silence people of color. You'll also learn how certain tactics continue today and why the debate over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census may depress engagement from the Latinx community.

Watch this video about the challenges facing the 2020 Census and how failing to accurately count the population would threaten the integrity of the country’s most authoritative dataset that drives public policy.

Listen to YWCA USA's Organize Your Butterflies podcast about their YWomenCount campaign to encourage everyone to participate in the 2020 Census.

Read this article from University Hospitals about the importance of counting children in the 2020 Census and its impact on driving health policy.

Read this article on how busing within school districts was implemented as a way to break segregation’s stranglehold in education and its effect on generations of students. Find out how in 2020, we find our schools once again segregated.

Districts can draw school zones to make classrooms more or less racially segregated. Read this quick article and find your school district to see how well it's doing.

Read this quick piece to better understand how America has used schools as a weapon against Native Americans. From years of coercive assimilation and historical trauma, generations of Native children find themselves suffering with subpar education outcomes.

As the child population becomes “majority-minority,” racial segregation remains high, income segregation among families with children increases, and the political and policy landscape undergoes momentous change. Check out this study on the consequences of segregation for children’s opportunity and well being.

Textbooks are supposed to teach us a common set of facts about who we are as a nation, but the influence of religion and politics in instructional material can skew those facts. Read this article to see how history textbooks reflect America’s refusal to reckon with slavery.

Half of all school-aged children are non-white. Of children’s books published in 2013, though, only 10.5% featured a person of color. In 2016, this number doubled to 22%, but white is still the “default identity.” Read this article to consider ways in which some educators are reconstructing the canon.

Very few states require Holocaust education in their school systems and a 2018 survey showed that two-thirds of U.S. Millenials were not familiar with Auschwitz. Read this article on how one state hopes to change that statistic, during a surge of anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Out of school suspensions have doubled since the 1970s and continue to increase even though juvenile crimes have continued to drop. Watch this quick video which explains the school-to-prison pipeline.

Across the country, Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls. Check out this study to better understand how Black girls are being pushed out of school.

By age 9, the behaviors of Black girls are often seen as and treated more like adults than children. Peruse this study on the erasure of Black girls’ childhood, particularly pages 9-11 as it pertains to discipline in school.

In this interactive data-set, you can plug in your school system and those around you to investigate whether there is racial inequality at your school.

Watch this quick video that illustrates how some California preschools are getting children to participate in conversations about racial differences at an early age.

K-6 classrooms are led by a primarily white, female teacher population, whose inherent biases often come into play in their approaches to children and teaching. Read this interview with Dr. Robin DiAngelo on white fragility in teaching and education.

Black students who had just one Black teacher by third grade were 13% more likely to enroll in college. Check out this article on how the role-model effect can potentially shrink the educational achievement gap.

Carl Brigham, the creator of the original SAT believed that American education was declining and "will proceed with an accelerating rate as the racial mixture becomes more and more extensive." Watch this video on how standardized tests were designed by racists and eugenicists.

While popular misconception characterizes Asians as the most educated minority group in the U.S., Southeast Asian American students experience serious educational inequalities that are often masked due to their categorization as “Asian.” Read this article about why Southeast Asian Americans aren't going to college.

Read this piece by Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Anthony Abraham Jack on why colleges must learn that students who come from poverty need more than financial aid to succeed.

In communities in which people have more racial biases, African Americans are being killed more by police than their presence in the population would warrant. Read this article to see how data is used to pinpoint where disproportionate shootings of minorities are most likely to occur.

Stanford University researchers found that Black and Latino drivers were stopped more often than white drivers, based on less evidence of wrongdoing. Read this study to uncover the extent of this evidence, which is driven by racial bias.

Following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, The Washington Post began creating a database cataloging every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty. Check it out.

Watch this video on mass incarceration to understand how for certain demographics of young black men, the current inevitability of prison has become a normal life event.

Despite the portrayal of Black fathers as absent in the upbringing of their children, African American dads are more likely to engage in a variety of activities with their children on a daily basis over white and Hispanic fathers. Read this article on dispelling the stereotypical portrayal of Black fathers.

Connecticut’s prison population is the lowest its been in 27 years — much of that recent shrinkage the result of concern for the safety of inmates and prison employees amid the ongoing novel coronavirus health emergency. Read this article about how discretionary releases have impacted racial groups.

Muslims make up about 9% of state prisoners, though they are only about 1% of the U.S. population, a new report finds. Listen to this report which sheds light on the obstacles some incarcerated Muslims face in prison while practicing their faith.

16,000 people in Connecticut are behind bars. Read this state profile from the Prison Policy Initiative to see who is incarcerated in CT and other demographic trends.

Connecticut has made many strides when it comes to youth justice, but there is still much more work to be done. Read this opinion piece that explores reforms that have been made and their impact, along with other areas for improvement.

A diverse police force that reflects the community it serves is central to good policing. In New Britain, 9.6 % of the police force is African American, nearly matching the population rate in the city. But while the population of New Britain is more than 45% Latinx, only 11.5% of the police force is Hispanic. Read more in this article about racial imbalance and why it persists.

A recent study of 22 U.S. state prison systems and all U.S. federal prisons, found that roughly 3.8% of the women in their sample were pregnant when they entered prison. Read this article to see how prisons neglect pregnant women in their healthcare policies.

Listen to this recording of an investigation that finds that in prisons across the U.S. , women are disciplined more often than men and almost always for low-level, non-violent offenses.

Read this article on the cycle of poverty, trauma, and the unmet needs of women in jail and after release, to understand how the criminal justice system exploits the poor and vulnerable.

Long-term imprisonment inevitably changes the personalities of former convicts. Read these findings from interviews with 25 former 'lifers,' who had served an average of 19 years in jail.

Maryam Henderson-Uloho was convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to 25 years in a Louisiana prison.  Watch the incredible story of how she turned her life around upon her release and how she continues to support other female ex-offenders.

Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% - higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression. Read this article which outlines the barriers formerly incarcerated people face when looking for unemployment.

Watch this TED Talk about how research has found that higher levels of discrimination are associated with a broad range of negative health outcomes such as obesity, high blood pressure, breast cancer, heart disease, and early death.

Listen to this podcast about the effect of chronic stress from frequent racist encounters on the health outcomes of people of color. The article also features a case study on how a large scale ICE raid in Iowa impacted the health of pregnant Latinx women across the state.

Read this article about how the mental burdens of bias, trauma, and family hardship lead to unequal life outcomes for girls and women and girls and women of color in particular.

In the U.S., black babies die at twice the rate of white babies. Read this article about the infant mortality gap and what black doulas are doing to change it.

Watch this interview featuring Stacey D. Stewart, the President and CEO of March of Dimes, where she and her co-panelists grapple with the growing maternal health crisis and how to provide every mother the best care.

Read this article on how the negative impact of institutional racism on maternal and infant mortality for Native American women closely parallels that of African American women.

Watch this video about how African Americans face disproportionate rates of lead poisoning, asthma, and environmental harm due to systemic racism.

Read about the climate crisis’s disproportionate impact on Indigenous communities, and how Indigenous people have been at the forefront of the fight against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and other environmental injustices.

Watch this interview with scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva where she links environmental activism to social justice and explains how that intersection can help us find common humanity.

Watch this video about the history of institutional racism in American medicine and how racist 18th-century beliefs and practices are still leading to adverse health outcomes for people of color today.

Listen to this podcast about the United States Supreme Court ruling, Buck v. Bell, that institutionalized the racist eugenics movement and led to 70,000 forced sterilizations of people of color and people with physical and mental disabilities.

Read this article about how racist stereotypes led to approximately 20,000 people – many of them Latino/a – being forcibly sterilized in California and how this is echoed in the political landscape today.

Watch this interview with Harriet Washington, author of "Medical Apartheid" who talks about how, even though the worst medical practices of 18th and 19th centuries are over, there are still a lot of medical research studies that can be abusive.

Read this article about the dangerous racial and ethnic stereotypes that still exist in medicine today and how they impact the care that people of color receive from their healthcare providers.

Listen to this podcast about how unconscious bias becomes dangerous in emergency medical situations where providers are much more likely to default to making decisions based on stereotypes.

Read about how outbreaks of new diseases have historically led to racial scapegoating and why we need to be vigilant against rising anti-Asian racism fueled by fear of Coronavirus.

Weekly Action Alerts

LEVEL 1: Take YWCA USA's pledge to participate in the upcoming U.S. Census.

LEVEL 2: Register to vote in the 2020 general election or assist someone else in registering.

LEVEL 3: Volunteer with Rock the Vote and help register new voters.

LEVEL 1: Read this brief intro on school segregation and bring together a small group of colleagues, family, or friends to participate in one of six interactive activities.

LEVEL 2: Before reading Tuesday's material, create a quick list of your top five favorites books that you read in high school. Keep these in the back of your mind as you move through the day's content. After reading the content, take a look at the authors of the books on your list and answer the following questions. Is there any racial/ethnic diversity? How did the canon affect your viewpoint as a young pupil? Now create a list of five books you would add to the high school canon that you feel all students should read.

LEVEL 3: Write a letter to your local school board or attend your next school board meeting to bring up a big issue of concern.

LEVEL 1: Check out this list of Greater Hartford re-entry programs and resources to find a volunteer opportunity.

LEVEL 2: Since 2014, The Marshall Project has been curating some of the best criminal justice reporting from around the web. In these records, you will find the most recent and the most authoritative articles on the topics, people, and events that are shaping the criminal justice conversation. Explore this page full of videos, articles, etc., from various viewpoints on the prison system.

LEVEL 1: Read this report about health disparities in Connecticut, specifically the four things we can do to eliminate these disparities.

LEVEL 2: Talk to your company/organization's HR department about their parental leave policy and other systems in place to support new parents.

LEVEL 3: Write a letter to your local elected officials urging them to declare racism a public health crisis.

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