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Equity & Social Justice Advisory Group Resources: Critical 716

Last Updated: May 13, 2024 12:40 PM


Critical 716: Introduction

Getting Started

Welcome to Critical 716: A Self-Paced Journey. Thank you for making the time to connect, reflect, and participate in this course to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community.

This course is an opportunity to increase our understanding and education around racial equity and is reproduced and adapted, with permission, from the United Way's "21-Day Racial Equity Challenge." The course will provide tools and resources to learn and take action to support a more racially just workplace and community. When change starts within enough of us, together, we can make progress toward becoming an equitable community for all.

Everyone is at a different place in this journey. Please approach this course with the mindset that you don't know everything, and there is always more to learn.

What to expect

Each module (called 'trails') is organized around a specific aspect of racial equity and will list the total time it takes to complete so you can plan your participation in the course around your other work commitments. The resources may include podcasts, videos, articles, and participatory exercises. There will be at least one reflection prompt per module, and we encourage you to record your responses in whatever way you prefer. ESJAG will also provide notebooks for this purpose.

We recognize information shared in this course may be emotionally and intellectually challenging to engage with, especially for people who have experienced racism and oppression. We understand and encourage you to take a break from the course, whenever you may need and return when you are ready.

This content was put in a UBLearns course for Library staff to complete in the late fall and winter of 2021-2022, with a culminating discussion that took place on January 18, 2022. We are including the content here to make it easier for people to review and for new Library staff to access.

Program Learning Objectives

After attending these sessions participants will:

  • Support the concept of doing EDI work as demonstrated by giving their attention to the challenge.
  • Respond to the core concepts of EDI as demonstrated by their voluntary involvement in the challenge.
  • Value EDI concepts as demonstrated by acceptance, preference, and commitment to at least 70% of the challenge content.
  • Organize the interrelationships of their EDI and non-EDI values as demonstrated by establishing which are dominant and which are pervasive.
  • "I value truth, but EDI values relative truth (truth by lived experiences); therefore, I need to acknowledge that truth may not be absolute and equal."
  • Formulate a world view or philosophy which integrates core concepts of EDI with their beliefs, ideas and attitudes as demonstrated by characterizing the attitudes and tendencies that control much of their behavior.

Trails 1-10

Trail 1: Race and Equity (54 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)


To help set the stage, let’s look at a few common terms and develop a mutual understanding of diversity, inclusion, and equity:

Equity – A commitment to fair and impartial opportunities for all, often through actively challenging and responding to bias, harassment, and discrimination.

Diversity – Welcoming differences of race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitment, age, (dis)ability status, and political perspective.

Inclusion – A commitment to ensuring that differences are welcomed, every person feels a sense of belonging, and everyone's voice is valued and heard.

Racial Equity

The Center for Social Inclusion defines racial equity as an outcome and a process. We are striving toward the outcome of everyone having what they need to thrive, regardless of their race or where they live. The process of equity requires breaking down beliefs, systems, policies, and practices that support systemic racism and racial inequity.

You may have heard of the idea that race is a “social construct.” What does this mean? As a society we define race based upon values, perceptions and power, as it is a product of culture and not a biological product. Race is not defined by genetics or DNA, instead society plays a major role in shaping our views of race and racial identity. With this comes social, economic, and political implications that have contributed to racial inequity in the United States for hundreds of years.

How do you think about your racial identity and its relevance to your work/volunteerism/studies? Identity matters. Who we think we are and who others think we are can have an influence on all aspects of our lives. Think about the first time you became aware of your racial identity. What comes up for you?

Did you know...

The latest U.S. Census figures put Buffalo's population at just over 261,000. About 47% identify themselves as white, 37% as black, 12% as Hispanic or Latino, and 4% as more than one race.

Activity 1 (3 minutes)

Read “What is Racial Equity” from the Center for Social Inclusion.

Activity 2 (40 minutes)

Read "Historical Foundations of Race" from the Smithsonian Institute and also watch all the videos embedded in the article.

Reflection (10 minutes)

Journal about your own racial identity. You might consider:

  • When did you first become aware of your racial identity?

  • What messages did you learn about race from your school and family?

  • Did they align with what you’ve seen in your life?

  • Think of a time when the way others perceived your racial identity affected how they treated you?

Explore more (optional)

Reflect and journal about the questions asked at the end of Activity 2.

Trail 2: Exploring Bias (45 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

Today we’re starting by looking inside, because we know that is where change starts. Knowing more about ourselves makes it possible to learn, grow, explore, and act. What does race mean to you? More specifically, what does your race mean to you?

While many people are intimately aware of their racial identity, others may still be learning about what racial identity means for themselves and their perceived place in society. When we know more about ourselves, we can be more aware of others and open to their experiences.

Learning about our own implicit biases—the positive and negative attitudes, stereotypes, and feelings we have about people and groups that are different than ourselves—is an important part of this course. Often the biases that we hold, even those that are unconscious, may cause us to act in ways that are offensive and discriminatory to others. Exploring our own implicit bias is key to moving toward equity.

Activity 1 (3 minutes)

Read New York Times article "Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs," by Angela Onwuachi-Willig.

If you cannot access the New York Times website, then you can find this article in Factiva via the UB Libraries subscription.

Activity 2 (1 minute)

Watch John Powell - We all have bias

Duration: 1:14

Activity 3 (30 minutes)

Take the following three Project Implicit Bias Tests from Harvard University after agreeing to terms on the first page of the site:

  • Race IAT
  • Skin-tone IAT
  • Weapons IAT

Reflection (10 minutes)

How have your thoughts on bias changed after reading the NYT article and watching the talk from John A. Powell? How have your results to the three IAT tests confirmed or confounded what you believed about your own level of bias? Did your test results surprise you?

Trail 3: The Meaning of Privilege (32 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

It’s time to talk about privilege. Privilege is the unearned social, political, economic, and psychological benefits of membership in a group that has institutional and structural power (source). There are many types of privilege that different groups have in the US and most people can identify at least one privilege that they hold. We commonly hear about privilege because of race or gender, but privilege also exists for different groups based on religion, sexuality, ability, class, education level.

The idea of privilege can be divisive, but at the core it means a built-in advantage, immunity, or benefit that a person or group enjoys beyond what others have access to or experience. Having privilege can give you advantages in life, but having privilege is not a guarantee of success.

Activity 1 (2 minutes)

Watch Students Learn A Powerful Lesson About Privilege (Duration: 1:46)

Activity 2 (4 minutes)

Watch What Is Privilege? (Duration: 4:00)

Activity 3 (2 minutes)

Take this Buzzfeed quiz: How Privileged Are You?

Activity 4 (4 minutes)

Read "Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person," by Gina Crosley-Corcoran.

Activity 5 (9 minutes)

Listen to this Stateside episode with Eddie Moore, Jr., executive director of The Privilege Institute, about how the White Privilege Conference in Grand Rapids created a space for people to have "tough conversations."

Reflection (10 minutes)

Did reading/listening to these items or taking the privilege test make you think about your own privilege differently? Consider today’s activities to identify ways that you could use your privilege to promote racial equity and justice in our community.

Trail 4: Talking about Race (38 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

How often have you been in social settings where the majority of individuals have been of a different race or ethnicity? How often does a conversation about race turn a room silent, or create divisions among friends, family, and colleagues? Why does this happen? Many people think that talking about race is “taboo” or have been taught to avoid the topic all together. Others may shy away due to lack of experience or ability to articulate their feelings on the topic. Whatever the reason, engaging with these three activities may help to build the skills to participate in conversations about race to help move our community forward.

First, ask yourself if you are comfortable engaging in a conversation about race with those who are the same race as you. Now, how about a conversation about race with someone who is a different race? Either situation may feel uncomfortable, especially if you haven’t been exposed to this type of dialogue or are not sure how to start. Maybe you’re worried about “saying the wrong thing”, causing harm, or creating a rift in a relationship. If this is you, you’re not alone. This module offers helpful tips and supportive examples to improve conversations about race.

Did you know...

64% of Black adults said that their family talked to them about challenges related to race while they were growing up (32% said that this conversation happened often). 90% of white adults said that their families rarely had these types of conversations. Source: Pew Research Center

Activity 1 (6 minutes)

Watch ‘Intergroup anxiety’: Can you try too hard to be fair? (Duration: 5:32)

Read "Getting Started with Difficult Conversations" from the AAUW's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit

Activity 3 (14 minutes)

Watch Is My Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk? | Beverly Daniel Tatum | TEDxStanford (Duration: 13:25)

Reflection (10 minutes)

Did you recognize any behaviors or emotions from the intergroup anxiety video that you have experienced? How have your thoughts on difficult conversation changed after reading and watching Activities 2 and 3? How will these thoughts and experiences change your approach to difficult conversations on race and other topics in the future?

Trail 5: Levels of Racism (42 minutes)

Introduction (2 minutes)

A common misconception about racism in our country is that racism is limited to personal prejudice and intentional bias in our individual interactions across different races. Another misconception is that being racist is a binary, either-or status: either someone is 100% racist (and therefore “bad”), or 100% not-racist (and therefore “good”). For people who mistakenly think that being racist is a binary status, it can be upsetting to hear that they have said or done something racist.

More accurately, racism exists on multiple levels, and includes any policies, actions (including inactions), words, and thoughts which result in racially inequitable outcomes, whether malicious intent is present or not. Also, racism is so pervasive within American society that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for anyone who grew up in the United States, including BIPOC, to be 100% free of internalized racism. And intentional interpersonal racism between individuals is actually a symptom of a larger system of racism: an array of cultural norms and institutional policies and practices that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes, often without individual intent or malice.

Change requires an awareness of the levels of racism, a commitment to self-reflection, and a collective will to address people, organizations, and systems to break down barriers that have been built over hundreds of years.

Activity 1 (20 minutes)

Watch Let's get to the root of racial injustice | Megan Ming Francis | TEDxRainier (Duration: 19:38)

In this inspiring and powerful talk, Megan Francis traces the root causes of our current racial climate to their core causes, debunking common misconceptions and calling out "fix-all" cures to a complex social problem.

Megan Ming Francis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington where she specializes in the study of American politics, race, and the development of constitutional law. She is particularly interested in the construction of rights and citizenship, black political activism, and the post-civil war South. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, she was educated at Garfield High School, Rice University in Houston, and Princeton University where she received her M.A. and her Ph.D. in Politics. In her award winning book, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State, shows that the battle against lynching and mob violence in the first quarter of the 20th century were pivotal to the development of civil rights and the growth of federal court power. She is inspired by people who fight for justice–even when the end appears nowhere in sight.

Activity 2 (10 minutes)

Read this Business Insider article, "26 simple charts to show friends and family who aren't convinced racism is still a problem in America."

Data and research have extensively documented the ways in which Black Americans are underrepresented, overrepresented, or experience different treatment from their white counterparts. These 26 charts show the extent of racial disparities in America, in areas like employment, wealth, education, home ownership, healthcare, and incarceration.

Reflection (10 minutes)

How is structural racism different from individual racism? Why is that difference important when determining what intervention should be undertaken to address structural racism versus individual racism?

Trail 6: Trauma and Healing (31 minutes)

Introduction (2 minutes)

We hear a lot about trauma related to combat veterans, those who’ve been in significant accidents, and those who’ve been the victim of violence. Racism is also trauma, and many Americans are subject to racism in both overt and covert ways every day, including the youngest among us. Racism is painful, violent, harmful, and deeply felt by those on the receiving end. The lasting effects and trauma of experiencing racism can show up in emotions, behaviors, and in many other ways.

Dr. Kenneth V. Hardy suggests that rather than asking, “What is wrong”, a trauma-informed approach would be to question, “What happened to you?” Numerous studies show that racism and discrimination are forms of trauma, and the lasting psychological effects can be similar to those of veterans who have experienced combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is becoming more commonly diagnosed in marginalized communities as racism and discrimination continue to create psychological, emotional, and physical harm. It is important to understand this trauma to be able to move forward.

81% of Black people reported experiencing discrimination. 1 in 10 developed symptoms of PTSD due to racism and discrimination. Source: Psychology Today

4 in 10 Latinos say they have experienced discrimination in the past year, such as being criticized for speaking Spanish or being told to go back to their home country. Source: Pew Research Center

Activity 1 (7 minutes)

Read "Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma," by Kenneth V. Hardy.

Activity 2 (5 minutes)

Read this Psychology Today article, "The Link Between Racism and PTSD," by Monnica T. Williams, PhD.

Activity 3 (7 minutes)

Read the New York Times article, "Rest as Reparations," by Sandra E. Garcia.

Because you may not be able to access this article through the New York Times link, and it is not available in Factiva, we have created an accessible PDF. This PDF is for your personal reading only. Please do not redistribute by any means.If you would like a copy of the article, please reach out to any ESJAG member.

Reflection (10 minutes)

What do you notice about how your body reacts or responds when conversations about race/racism are happening around you? What role do you find yourself playing in conversations about race/racism in the workplace?

Trail 7: White Fragility (29 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

Have you heard of the term “White Fragility?” For white people, “White Fragility” refers to their discomfort and avoidance of racially charged stress, which perpetuates racial inequity.

Dr. Robin DiAngelo describes white fragility as a state of being for white people in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves can include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors shut down conversations, and inhibit actions which, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.

Activity 1 (3 minutes)

Take a quick quiz from the publisher of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism,” Robin DiAngelo, PhD, to see if you exhibit “White Fragility” traits.

Activity 2 (5 minutes)

Read the Robin DiAngelo's Guardian article, "White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not," that unpacks how we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives.

Activity 3 (10 minutes)

Read "28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors" that indicate a detour or wrong turn into white guilt, denial or defensiveness."

Reflection (10 minutes)

Do you identify with any of these attitudes or behaviors? Reflect on which ones and how you think you came to have them.

Trail 8: Opportunity and Segregation in Western New York (40 minutes) 

Introduction (2 minutes)

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 27% of Erie County households were already one emergency away from a financial crisis, setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the pandemic. This is according to the latest ALICE Report, from United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. In 2018, over 103,000 of Erie County’s 390,000 households were ALICE or Asset Limited, Income Constrained & Employed. ALICE households have an income above the federal poverty level, but are still struggling to afford basic household necessities like housing, child care, food, transportation, and technology. This is in addition to the 52,000 households living in poverty in Erie County. The report also demonstrates disparities between race and ethnicity and the likelihood of being classified as ALICE. The report reveals that the majority of households of color in WNY are ALICE compared to only 36% of white households.

When you hear the word segregation, what do you think of? Many of us think back to the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, American cities continue to be highly segregated even today. According to a report developed by Partnership for the Public Good, “The [Buffalo metro area] itself is ranked sixth most segregated in the nation on the white-black index, and twenty-first most segregated on the white-Hispanic index. White people are overrepresented in the suburbs, while people of color are overrepresented within the city of Buffalo.”

Present-day racism was built on a long history of racially distributed resources and ideas that shape our view of ourselves and others. It is a hierarchical system that comes with a broad range of policies and institutions that keep it in place. Policies shaped by institutional racism that enforce segregation include redlining, predatory lending, the exclusion of black veterans from the G.I. bill, and the forced segregation of neighborhoods by the Federal Housing Authority.

Activity 1 (18 minutes)

Watch "Segregated by Design" on Vimeo (17:36)

Learn more about how federal, state, and local governments segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.

Activity 2 (7 minutes)

Watch "The Disturbing History of the Suburbs" | Adam Ruins Everything (Duration: 6:20)

From Adam Ruins Everything, here's a short video that uses a Monopoly game to illustrate how our suburbs came to be the way they are—and the implications of the policies that built them.

Activity 3 (3 minutes)

Watch "A Legacy of Racism: How past practices affect segregation in Buffalo today," a video from Buffalo's WIVB Channel 4.

Reflection (10 minutes)

  • What is your reaction to learning that public policy, over the years, has driven people to live in certain areas?
  • Was this information new to you or had you heard about this before?
  • What do you think we, as a society, should be doing about this—if anything?

Explore more (optional)

Want to learn more?

Why are cities still so segregated? Watch this video where NPR’s Code Switch looks at the factors contributing to modern-day segregation. (7 minutes)

Increase your understanding of how racism is reinforced by policies and systems by reading this article by Anne Branigin published in The Root, “Black Communities Are on the 'Frontline' of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here's Why.”  (14 minutes)

Trail 9: Housing Inequity (35 minutes) 

Introduction (5 minutes)

In Western New York, and in many parts of our country, there is extreme housing segregation that is a direct result of a practice called "redlining," a form of lending discrimination that has disproportionately affected Black, Latinx, and other people of color for hundreds of years.

Beginning in the 1930s, this nationwide practice allowed banks to deny mortgage and loan applications, and prevented people from buying homes based on race or which community they lived in. The term “redlining” comes from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) using red ink to outline maps of undesirable neighborhoods— predominantly consisting of Black and Latinx families—to unfairly mark them as high-risk for loan default and thus give banks a “reason” to deny a loan. Housing segregation continued further as the FHA and VA denied subsidized mortgages to Black, Latinx and families of color in the growing suburbs after World War II. The first federal law prohibiting home lending discrimination was put in place with the 1969 Fair Housing Act, yet much damage had been done and lending discrimination still occurs today in different forms.

Home ownership plays a significant role in family wealth, enabling families to build equity that is passed down to future generations. People who did not have the opportunity to build wealth through home ownership because of redlining, housing discrimination and predatory loans are hundreds of thousands of dollars behind in wealth compared to their white counterparts, and continue to face these and other discriminatory practices today. It is important to reflect on the ways that housing inequities are advanced through policies and practices, and what we can do to address these inequities.

Did you know...

In February 2021 the New York State Department of Financial Services released a report on redlining in the Buffalo metropolitan area. According to the report, Buffalo remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States decades after the practice of redlining and other forms of housing discrimination were banned by law.

Activity 1 (8 minutes)

Watch How Redlining Shaped Black America As We Know It | Unpack That (Duration: 8:29)

Activity 2 (7 minutes)

Read “A 'Forgotten History' Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America” from NPR.

Activity 3 (5 minutes)

See how your own neighborhood has been affected by redlining by checking out "Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America."

Reflection (10 minutes)

What can you do to address housing inequities?

Explore More (optional)

Listen to the 35-minute Fresh Air podcast that accompanies Activity 2.

Trail 10: The Racial Wealth Gap and Financial Stability (41 minutes) 

Introduction (2 minutes)

Wealth is more than just jobs. It includes annual median income, homeownership, access to a college education, access to workplace or self-employment retirement plans, and more. The racial wealth gap in the United States is staggering. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, white families have an average net worth of more than $934,000, compared to Black families with an average net worth of $138,000, and Hispanic families with an average net worth of $191,000. These figures consider assets like homes, vehicles, income, retirement accounts, and other wealth-related items.

Contributing to the wealth gap are factors like income inequality, earnings gaps, home ownership rates, retirement savings, student loan debt, and inequitable asset building opportunities. This inequity in financial resources exists in our community, holding many back for decades, simply because of the color of their skin.

Did you know...

60% of POC (POC = Asian, Black, Hawaiian, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and/or two or more races) households in WNY have incomes below the ALICE threshold—they earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but struggle to afford basic household necessities. In comparison, only 36% of white households in WNY have incomes which put them below the ALICE threshold. Source: ALICE Report: 2018 

Activity 1 (16 minutes)

Watch Explained | Racial Wealth Gap | FULL EPISODE | Netflix (Duration: 16:13)

Activity 2 (10 minutes)

Explore "Nine Charts about Wealth Inequality in America (Updated)" by the Urban Institute about wealth inequality in America. Looking at all of the data together, what story is this telling you?

Activity 3 (3 minutes)

Watch How wealth inequality is dangerous for America (Duration: 2:36)

Reflection (10 minutes)

What did you learn about the wealth gap that you did not know before? How will this play a role in your understanding of others?

Trail 11-20

Trail 11: How your Race Affects your Health (48 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

How your Race Affects your Health

In April 2020, when The Buffalo News took a comprehensive look at the county mortality data, 30% of those who died from COVID-19 were Black even though they account for only 14% of the county's population.

According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in an interview with The Buffalo News, "...we’ve done a better job by working with many partners, including hospitals, nursing homes, but also with our friends in the African-American Health Disparities Task Force to get resources into the city, to identify cases early so that individuals get the services they need, and they don’t wait until it’s too late." Even though interventions were made locally to change the trend of COVID-19 deaths in Erie County, there are still systemic problems that need to be addressed to create equity in how healthcare is delivered. Now we are facing an issue of COVID vaccine equity and large racial disparities in who has received the vaccine.

Within many of our nation’s healthcare institutions, medical racism against Black, Indigenous and other People of Color is systemic and widespread. Racism manifests itself in countless ways (i.e., higher black infant and mother mortality rates, beliefs that Blacks experience less pain, racial bias introduced in medical school training) and makes equitable access to healthcare more difficult.

Healthcare costs also make up a significant portion of a household’s annual budget, placing additional stress on families that may or may not have insurance and access to quality care. The 2018 ALICE Report indicates that ALICE and poverty-level families are more likely to become ill because their basic needs for health insurance coverage and regular, quality preventative care are not being met. As you engage with one or more of today’s activities, ponder how your race has impacted your health and access to healthcare.

NOTE: The links provided in this introduction are to sources of the information and are not part of your activities to complete for this day, nor are they factored into the total time to complete this module. They are optional reading.

Activity 1 (5 minutes)

Read “Implicit Bias and Racial Disparities in Health Care.”

Activity 2 (17 minutes)

Watch David R. Williams' TEDtalk, “How Racism Makes Us Sick.”

Activity 3 (10 minutes)

Watch "Why Are Black Mothers and Infants Far More Likely to Die in U.S. From Pregnancy-Related Causes?"

Activity 4 (5 minutes)

Read just one example of how a medical test used to determine diagnosis of disease and transplant eligibility is based on racist biological studies: "Flawed Racial Assumptions in eGFR Have Care Implications in CKD."

Reflection (10 minutes)

After reading and viewing today's articles and videos, how do you think your race has impacted your health, access to healthcare, or treatment?

Trail 12: Early Childhood Development and Education (30 minutes)

Introduction (4 minutes)

Early childhood is one of the most critical times for developing healthy minds and bodies. Those who face the challenges of poverty, racism, discrimination, and inequitable access to resources, find themselves “behind the starting line” compared to their peers who do not face these issues.

When a child enters school already behind, it is very difficult to catch up. Resources like universal pre-K, well-child health screenings, and quality childcare are key to ensuring that children enter kindergarten ready to learn and grow with their peers. Low-income Black and Latino families are the most at-risk for inequitable access to these essential resources.

Fortunately, progress has been made in recent years. Since 2010, more than 40 states have instituted state-funded preschool programs and results show that children who attend a high-quality early learning program gain four months of learning, on average. In addition, children see positive gains throughout their lives including improved reading and math scores, better graduation rates, and higher income later in life.

There is still more to be done to provide equitable access to resources that support healthy early childhood development.

Did you know...

Students who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Not an early childhood development and education expert?

That's ok! This brief article from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion will give you an overview.

Activity 1 (6 minutes)

Read the U.S. News article "Education Inequality Starts Early," by Sara Mead, on children in households with low incomes.

Activity 2 (2 minutes)

Watch this brief CBS News report "Black Students More Likely to Be Suspended - Even in Preschool" on how systemic racism persists in early childhood education, where black preschool students are disproportionately facing harsh punishments like suspension.

Activity 3 (2 minutes)

Read the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child's infographic titled "How Racism Can Affect Child Development."

Activity 4 (6 minutes)

Watch A Conversation With My Black Son | Op-Docs | The New York Times (Duration: 5:16)

Watch "A Conversation With My Black Son" as parents discuss their struggles telling their black sons they may be targets of racial profiling by the police, when to tell them, and how to tell them–conversations parents of children of other races do not need to have for their own safety.

Reflection (10 minutes)

In your community, had you heard of these issues being discussed or addressed to improve early childhood development and education before reviewing this content? Did reading or watching any of these materials evoke an emotional response in you? You've gone through twelve modules so far. How might improving the conditions impacting early childhood development and education change some of the other struggles addressed?

Trail 13: Education and School-Aged Children (40 minutes)

Introduction (2 minutes)

We have already explored how segregation persists in our communities. Our economically and racially divided neighborhoods are leading to inequitable educational environments and adverse academic outcomes for our youth. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education effectively dismantled the legacy of Jim Crow. The Justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, progress is reversible. Even schools that were successfully desegregated are again racially segregated.

Today, more than half of the nation’s school-age children are in racially concentrated districts in which over 75% of students are of the same race, and districts are further segregated by income. Students of color, who are more likely to attend under-resourced schools than their white counterparts, suffer because of teachers working in under-resourced school environments and large class sizes, which when controlling for socioeconomic status, almost entirely explain disparities in academic achievement (Brookings Institute). 

Activity 1 (12 minutes)

Read the brief "Public Education in Buffalo and the Region" from the Partnership for the Public Good. Use the link above then look to the right-hand side for a red button to view the PDF.

Activity 2 (13 minutes)

Watch this TedTalk titled "How America's Public Schools Keep Kids in Poverty," by Kandice Sumner.

Activity 3 (3 minutes)

Read "How to Bring Equity and Inclusion to the Classroom," by Sabia Prescott, Jenny Muñiz, and Kristina Ishmael.

As library professionals, we are familiar with the use of Open Educational Resources. Take a look at this article, which covers the use of OERs in high school classrooms. For an optional, deeper dive, visit the New York State Education Department's Educational Design & Technology overview on OERs.

Reflection (10 minutes)

Reflect upon the disparities in our educational system. What was your experience as a child? Did your early education provide a solid foundation for your future?

Were you surprised to hear that OERs are being used in high schools? Why or why not?

Trail 14: Immigrants and Refugees (35 minutes)

Introduction (2 minutes)

Imagine: What would it take for you to grab your family and run from your home? Imagine leaving behind everything for which you have worked so hard, fleeing to a place you have never been, where you don’t know a soul. Can you imagine having one hour to pack, choosing items from your home to embark on what may become a long, arduous journey? What would you leave behind? Envision how terrible a situation would be for you to leave everything behind, putting yourself and your family at the mercy of strangers. This is the experience of refugees: individuals who have fled their country of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” Unfortunately refugees, as well as other immigrants, face very real racism and discrimination in their new communities.

The reality is that immigrants make our communities better for everyone. 2018 data from New American Economy indicates that immigrants in the Buffalo metropolitan area have $1.5 billion in spending power. Immigrants fill labor shortages in high-tech and manual labor fields and start new businesses which creates job opportunities for immigrants and natural-born citizens alike. Immigrants and refugees also bring culture to our cities, making Western New York a more diverse and lively place. Refugee and immigrant owned businesses are popping up all around the Buffalo-Niagara region, sharing their cultural goods and their delicious cuisines with our community. Despite all of the good they bring, many foreign-born neighbors experience backlash stemming from the misconceptions, racial discriminations, and language access barriers, all of which is detrimental to their quality of life and safety.

Activity 1 (7 minutes)

Read the UN Regugee Agency's "Refugees Raise Voices to Push for Racial Justice."

Activity 2 (6 minutes)

Read "Immigrants, Refugees, and Languages Spoken in Buffalo" from Partnership for the Public Good.

Activity 3 (4 minutes)

Read "What Every American Should Know About the Immigrant Experience," by Araceli Hernandez.

Activity 4 (6 minutes)

Watch What does it mean to be a refugee? - Benedetta Berti and Evelien Borgman (Duration: 5:43)

Reflection (10 minutes)

List the adjectives you’d use to describe an immigrant or refugee. Is your list of adjectives full of words with more negative or positive connotations? Are your adjectives for immigrants and refugees the same?

Trail 15: Equity and the LGBTQI+ Community (34 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

Imagine not feeling accepted at home, in your community or at school because of your gender identity or sexual orientation. Like race and socioeconomic status, inequities for people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBTQI+) can be seen across many dimensions, including healthcare, education, and in the workplace. Research from the American Progress Institute shows that LGBTQI+ individuals experience widespread discrimination, often manifesting itself as getting passed over for promotions, being bullied in schools, being refused healthcare, or being denied equal treatment at a store or hotel.

The intersectionality of race and sexual orientation and gender identity also has compounding effects on individuals’ well-being: Black transgender and gender non-conforming individuals experience some of the highest levels of discrimination and threats on their personal safety.

As you explore today’s activities we encourage you to think and act on ways you can support our LGBTQI+ neighbors in WNY.

Activity 1 (3 minutes)

Watch Why Respecting Pronouns Is So Important | Opinions | NowThis (Duration: 3:34)

As a bonus to the video, please add your personal pronouns to your email signature, staff page, and/or Zoom name to show your advocacy for LGBTQI+ individuals.

Activity 2 (15 minutes)

Watch Effective Allyship: A Transgender Take on Intersectionality | Ashlee Marie Preston | TEDxPasadena (Duration: 15:34)

Activity 3 (5 minutes)

Get acquainted with the ever growing calendar of events for LGBTQI+ advocacy within the WNY area.

Reflection (10 minutes)

Think about the ways in which you do or do not experience privilege based on your identity. Consider the intersectionality of identity, including your gender, sexuality, race, ethnic origins, and religion. Also consider the way you have assumed the gender and sexual identity of another—have their been times when you conflated the two, and/or do you feel entitled to know that information? Consider those who may be non-binary, genderless, or genderfluid.

Trail 16: Building a Race Equity Culture (18 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

Every day in the workplace, individuals face challenges being their authentic selves. As leaders and colleagues, we each have a role to play in creating inclusive workspaces. Diverse perspectives enrich our workplaces, and studies are showing that involving diverse voices improves performance, problem solving and decision making. Ithaka S+R has released research about recruiting in libraries. The culture of an organization provides insight into the racial dynamics and racial equity/parity within the organization. Today we will focus on how you can create a race equity culture at your organization and in your community.

Activity 1 (5 minutes)

Read "Yes, You Must Talk About Race At Work: 3 Ways To Get Started," from Forbes.

Activity 2 (2 minutes)

Watch Inclusion Starts With I (Duration: 1:55)

Watch this video which sheds light on common struggles people face bringing their authentic selves to the workplace.

Reflection (10 minutes)

Do you see yourself in any of these people?

Trail 17: Being an Ally (31 minutes) 

Introduction (3 minutes)

The dictionary definition of ally is “a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.” In today’s society, the term has taken on a more urgent and active meaning; however, it is often misunderstood or misused to imply good intentions, often without action or with action for unproductive reasons. For this reason, "ally" or "allyship" can be triggering terms for those who experience racism, oppression, and discrimination on a regular basis. Informed action is important for those who strive to be genuine allies with marginalized people and communities.

According to Amélie Lamont in the guide in Activity 2, being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It means you’re taking on the struggle as your own, and adding your voice or action alongside those who are oppressed. Being anti-racist is not a spectator sport, nor is it an individual activity. It requires recognizing and owning the privilege that you hold, to help carry the weight of oppression for, and in collaboration with, others.

Activity 1 (12 minutes)

Read Amélie Lamont's "Guide to Allyship."

Activity 2 (3 minutes)

Watch 5 Tips For Being An Ally (Duration: 3:32)

Reflection (10 minutes)

There is a place for each of us in this work. As you complete today’s activities, reflect on how you can become an informed ally. What are concrete ways that you can practice allyship in your daily life?

Explore More (optional)

Read "The Role of 'Privileged' Allies in the Struggle for Social Justice," by Angeliki Fanouria Giannaki.

Trail 18: Tools for the Racial Equity Change Process (25 minutes) 

Introduction (1 minute)

Over the course of this journey, we have learned how racial inequities permeate our communities on individual, institutional, and systemic levels. We are all impacted by the system of racism in our country and therefore all responsible for dismantling the structures that allow it to persist. Change is possible and there are many tools we can employ as individuals and organizations to drive individual and community transformation. We will highlight a few of these tools below, but encourage you to explore Racial Equity Tools, a comprehensive site of resources designed to support learning, planning, acting, and evaluating efforts to achieve racial equity.

Creating equitable outcomes also requires that we change the way we talk about members of our community, focusing on their aspirations rather than their challenges. In practice, this is called asset-framing and uses narratives to change the unconscious associations ingrained in our society. The opposite practice of deficit-framing, or defining people by their challenges, encourages continued stigmatization of groups of individuals.

The readings that follow explain more about asset-framing, offer ideas on how to start talking about race in a variety of arenas, and offer strategies for being an active bystander.

Activity 1 (8 minutes)

Read this “Beginner’s Guide to Asset Framing,” to learn more about why how we communicate impacts our ability to achieve racial equity.

Activity 2 (3 minutes)

Read “10 Ways to Start a Conversation About Race,” by Race Forward.

Activity 3 (3 minutes)

Read these strategies of "Being an Active Bystander" when faced with the emergence of bias in interpersonal interactions.

Reflection (10 minutes)

How does deficit-framing sabotage equity? What are some solutions?

Which of the strategies from Activity 2 could you use in various areas of your life?

Confrontation can be difficult. Which of the strategies from Activity 3 would you feel comfortable using?

Explore more (optional)

hollaback! is a nonprofit working to end harassment. They provide free anti-harassment training and bystander intervention training. You can see their schedule of free trainings.

Trail 19: Final Reflections (36 minutes)

Introduction (1 minute)

Today’s challenge is to take time to reflect on your experience. Research shows that a critical component to learning is taking time to reflect or being intentional about processing the lessons being taught by your experiences.

In this module you will find five reflection questions and one activity. Take the time you need to answer these questions in your journal or in whatever form works best for you.

Final Reflections (30 minutes)

  • What are my identities and in what ways have my identities impacted my life? Are there identities of mine that have provided me higher social capital or privilege in certain environments, or vice versa?
  • What were some of my assumptions about race and racial inequity before I started this challenge? In what ways have these assumptions been challenged? In what ways have they been reinforced?
  • Where have I seen evidence of inequities and systemic and structural racism in my community?
  • What two to three shifts, changes or actions, can I take to create a more inclusive and equitable environment in my home, workplace, and community?
  • What do I want to learn more about? What topics related to racism, oppression and/or discrimination do I need more research on?

Activity 1 (5 minutes)

Write down a goal you have moving forward to help in dismantling racism and inequity. Research shows that when you write down your goals, you are more likely to commit to them and achieve them.

Trail 20: Take Action in WNY (31 minutes) 

Congratulations! (1 minute)

Congratulations on completing Critical 716: A Self-Paced Journey. When we began this journey, our goal was to provide tools and resources to learn and take action to support a more racially just community. We know these conversations and the feelings they evoke are not always easy, but making space for brave and vulnerable dialogue is one of many steps we can take toward achieving equity in the Libraries, at UB, in Western New York and across the world. We challenge each of you to share a reflection on your experience with a family member, friend, or co-worker to continue the momentum from this journey.

Today’s challenge is all about not only continuing these conversations, but turning conversations into actions that address the issues we’ve discussed during this journey. Like the rest of the journey, the activities below are by no means comprehensive and we encourage you to continue to take actions that will help lead to a more equitable community.

Take action! (30 minutes)

Take some time to look through these actions you might take, and commit to doing at least one of them.