Jessica Hughes
Communication, Ethnic Studies, Sociology
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
  • Anti-Racisim
  • Communication Studies
  • Race
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial




    This module offers a communication studies perspective on anti-racism.

    Students who complete this module will 1) Think about how we ought to talk about race. 2) Learn about the social construction of race. 3) Listen to conversations about race. 4) Take part in conversations about race.

    [Title page image description: White, stenciled letters against a black background that appears to be smeared with white paint read, "STOP RACISM."]

    Module Overview

    Activities in this module are designed for individual learners but can be easily adapted into group and class activities and discussions.

      This module takes a communication studies approach toward anti-racism. It was developed for college students in the United States by Jessica M. F. Hughes and is written from a USAmerican perspective. This is the first published version.

      [Title page image description: White stenciled text against a black background that appears to be smeared with white paint reads, "STOP RACISM." "Stop Racism" by Taymaz Valley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.]

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      Learning objectives

      Students who complete this module will:

      • Think about how we ought to talk about race.
      • Learn about the social construction of race.
      • Listen to conversations about race.
      • Take part in conversations about race.

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      Materials needed

      • A notebook or journal in which to record observations and reflections

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      • Activities are marked with a star icon. To get the most out of the module, complete all media and writing assignments.

      Starting conversations about race

      LET'S TALK ABOUT RACE #BreakingDownBarriers
      Image description: A presenter with brown skin and long, curly, red hair smiles and gestures in front of a pink screen displaying the words "LET'S TALK ABOUT RACE #BreakingDownBarriers." "Let's Talk About Race" by gdsteam is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


      This module asks you to listen to and engage in communication about race.

      Why? Because talking about race is necessary, but often difficult. As Ijeoma Oluo (2019) argues,

      Race is not something that people can choose to ignore anymore. Some of us have been speaking all along, and have not been heard. Others are trying out their voices for the first time.

      These are very scary times for people who are just now realizing that America is not the melting pot utopia that their parents and teachers told them it was. These are very scary times for people who are just now realizing how justifiably hurt, angry, and terrified people of color have been all along. These are very stressful times for people of color who have been fighting and yelling and trying to protect themselves from a world that doesn't care, to suddenly being asked by those who've ignored them for so long, "What has been happening your entire life? Can you educate me?" Now that we're all in the room, how do we start the discussion? (p. 5)

      This module offers one starting point for discussions about race. To begin, complete the following activities:

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      1. Freewrite: What do good conversations about race look like?

      Write and/or draw your answers to the questions below:

      1. What should conversations about race look like and achieve?
      2. What specific communication strategies can people use to ensure conversations about race go well?

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      2. Read & synthesize: Brenda J. Allen's guidelines for interaction

      1. Read Brenda J. Allen's (2014) guidelines for interaction.
      2. Identify the guidelines that you feel are most important for conversations about race.
      3. Add communication strategies for talking about race from Allen's list to your notes.
      4. Write down any additional communication strategies for talking about race that occur to you.

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      3. Self-reflection: How were you socialized to talk about race?

      This activity invites you to consider your own socialization, that is

      the total set of experiences in which [you've] become clear about norms and expectations and learn[ed] how to function as respected and accepted members of a culture. ...children [and adults] are socialized at both conscious and unconscious levels to internalize the dominant values and norms of their culture, and in so doing, develop a sense of self. (Allen, 2010, p. 12)

      To reflect on how you were socialized to talk about race, journal in response to the following questions:

      1. What were you taught about race and racism as a kid?
      2. Did you have experiences talking about race growing up? If so, how did they go?
      3. Has your thinking or ability to talk about race and racism changed in recent years? If so, how and why?



      Allen, B. J. (2011). Difference and other important matters: Communicating social identity. Waveland Press.

      Allen, B. J. (2014). Guidelines for interaction. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      Oluo, I. (2019). So you want to talk about race. Seal Press.


      Why we need to talk about race

      Sign says "Racism seriously affects our vision of people. Our awareness is the first step toward change."
      Image description: A framed poster laid out like a sight chart reads, "Racism seriously affects our vision of people. Our awareness is the first step toward change." Fine print at the bottom of the poster identifies the maker as the Racism Awareness Group in Belfast and the poster sponsor as NICVA [Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action]. "Racism" by Marcella licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


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      Media assignment: Ijeoma Oluo's talk at Google

      To think more about why we need to talk about race, watch and take notes on a talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo.

      1. BEFORE you watch, jot down the following topics to listen for at the top of a blank page:
        • why talking about race is hard
        • personal goals different people have in conversations about race
        • practical strategies for talking about race
      2. Watch Oluo's talk at Google (51:45; Talks at Google, 2018) at (Click CC for captions. A transcript is attached below.)
      3. WHILE you watch, take notes on the topics you've been asked to listen for AND any points you like, don't like, or are confused about.
      4. AFTER you watch, think about and write or draw in response to the following questions:
        • Do you think it's important to talk about race? Why or why not?
        • Have you ever missed an opportunity to talk about race? What happened and how do you think talking about race might have helped?
        • Do you think contexts you inhabit are "defined by whiteness," as Oluo argues? If so, where do you see whiteness at play? If not, why not?
        • What kinds of solutions to racism do you feel empowered to enact in your life?

      To delve deeper, read Oluo's (2019) New York Times bestseller So you want to talk about race and check out discussion questions for the book at Reading Group Choices (n.d.).



      Oluo, I. (2019). So you want to talk about race. Seal Press.

      Reading Group Choices. (n.d.). So you want to talk about race discussion questions. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      Talks at Google. (2018, Feb. 18). Ijeoma Oluo | So you want to talk about race | Talks at Google [video]. YouTube. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      The social construction of race

      Social construction

      Social construction is the process by which aspects of reality are communicated into being. Identities, norms, and ideologies (that is, socially shared belief systems) are socially constructed.

      Social construction of reality flow chart
      Image description: A flow chart of the social construction of reality by Eesull-hcf16 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 shows three text boxes connected by arrows. Left to right they read, "Externalization: Humans give meaning (mentally and physically) to their reality through language" --> "Objectification: Things and ideas 'harden', reality becomes established" --> "Internalization: External, objective world becomes a part of a person's internal, subjective world."

      The social construction of race

      "[D]espite what we've always believed, the world's peoples simply don't come bundled into distinct biological groups" (California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19a). The idea that there is a biological basis for race is a myth. People in different racial categories can be genetically more similar than people of the same race.

      Racial categories cast skin color and other embodied differences associated with race as significant, but these physical traits are as arbitrary as toe length. Does the idea of groups of people classified and treated differently on the basis of toe length seem laughable to you? How, then, did the idea of race harden to the point that it is not only taken seriously, but classifying people according to racialized body features has become a central part of our world and lived experience?

      The PBS documentary series Race: The power of an illusion (Herbes-Sommers, et al., 2003) tells the story of how the illusion of race was first communicated into being to uphold the ideology of white supremacy that justified the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas. The ideology of white supremacy is the

      belief that white people are superior to all other races. This belief stems from power sources in the U.S. that have steadfastly reinforced and perpetuated a hierarchy of race...[and] have systematically sought to separate white from nonwhite, to glorify whiteness and malign color (Allen, 2011, p. 33).

      In "Episode 2: The story we tell," the authors of Race: The power of an illusion describe how white supremacy was invented to reconcile the contradictions between liberty and slavery:

      Ironically, it was not slavery but freedom - the revolutionary new idea of liberty and the natural rights of man [sic] - that led to an ideology of white supremacy. Historian Robin D.G. Kelley points out the conundrum that faced our founders: "The problem that they had to figure out is how can we promote liberty, freedom, democracy on the one hand, and a system of slavery and exploitation of people who are non-white on the other?" Horton illuminates the story that helped reconcile that contradiction: "And the way you do that is to say, 'Yeah, but you know there is something different about these people. This whole business of inalienable rights, that's fine, but it only applies to certain people.'"

      ...Similar logic rationalized the taking of American Indian lands. When the "civilized" Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homes in Georgia to west of the Mississippi, one in four died along the way, in what became known as The Trail of Tears. President Andrew Jackson defended Indian removal: it was not the greed of white settlers that drove the policy, but the inevitable fate of an inferior people established "in the midst of a superior race." (California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19b)

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      Media assignment: Explore Race: The power of an illusion

      1. Explore at least three texts and/or clips from "Episode 1: The difference between us" at (California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19a).
      2. Explore at least three texts and/or clips from "Episode 2: The story we tell" at (California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19b)
      3. Explore at least three texts and/or clips from "Episode 3: The house we live in" at (California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19c)
      4. Talk with a friend about something you learned from the resources you engaged with.
      5. BONUS group assignment: Complete this activity with a friend or group. Ask all participants to engage with different texts and/or clips. Then, discuss your take-aways together.

      To delve deeper, engage with all the resources at and/or watch the full documentary series.



      Allen, B. J. (2011). Difference and other important matters: Communicating social identity. Waveland Press.

      California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California. (2018-19a). Episode 1: The difference between us. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California. (2018-19b). Episode 2: The story we tell. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California. (2018-19c). Episode 3: The house we live in. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

      Herbes-Sommers, C. Cheng, J. Adelman, L. Smith, L. & Strain, T. (Directors). (2003). Race: The power of an illusion [video]. California Newsreel.

      The social construction of whiteness

        UNLEARN RACISM by Overpass Light Brigade
        Image description: "UNLEARN RACISM" is spelled out in blue lights held by pedestrians on an overpass at night. A city skyline and streetlights can be seen in the background. "Unlearn Racism 8" by Overpass Light Brigade is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

        Membership categories

        Membership categories are words that label/categorize groups of people. These terms function as a kind of cognitive shorthand. Simply by using membership categories, we communicate/activate all kinds of expectations, associations, beliefs, and assumptions about the person (and people) to whom the term applies.

        To see how this tendency works, slowly read the following list of roles... Notice the image that comes to your mind for each:

        • secretary
        • CEO
        • soldier
        • hair stylist
        • janitor
        • minister
        • welfare recipient
        • plastic surgeon
        • female impersonator
        • gang member
        • flight attendant
        • doctor (Allen, 2011, p. 2)

        Membership categories contribute to the social construction of identity. We communicate ideas about identity categories in interactions, organizational policies, media, and other contexts. As organizational communication scholar Brenda J. Allen (2011) points out, "From the time we are born,...socially constructed categories of identity influence how others interact with us (and vice versa) and how we perceive ourselves" (p. 12).

        Membership categories can be dominant and nondominant. People in dominant membership categories generally have more social and economic power. People who inhabit nondominant categories generally have less power.

        Membership categories can also be marked or unmarked. Marked terms are those that are designated with a special 'mark' that indicates a particular distinction or out-of-the-ordinariness, e.g., "male nurse" or "female construction worker." Unmarked terms are default or neutral terms that label people and roles that follow expectations. Marked membership categories are used to label people and roles that go against expectations somehow. Dominant categories tend to be unmarked, whereas non-dominant categories are often marked.

        What is whiteness?

        'Whiteness' names the cultural experiences, ideologies, attributes, and assumptions that are connected to the membership category 'white people.'

        According to sociologist Nicki Lisa Cole (2018),

        Whiteness, within sociology, is defined as a set of characteristics and experiences that are attached to the white race and white skin. In the U.S. and European contexts, whiteness marks one as normal, belonging, and native, while people in other racial categories are perceived as and treated as unusual, foreign, and exotic. Sociologists believe that what whiteness is and means is directly connected to the construction of people of color as "other" in society.

        Please note that while the concepts are connected, whiteness is NOT the same thing as white supremacy. For more on how white supremacy was used to create racial identity categories in the first place, watch Episode 2 of the PBS series Race: The power of an illusion (see California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California, 2018-19).

        How silence communicates whiteness

        Silence is a key communicative mechanism by which whiteness is socially constructed. The term 'whiteness' names a difference that often goes unspoken and a characteristic that often goes unmarked.

        According to writer and editor Jenée Desmond-Harris (2015), "white people have a race--but everyone flips out when we talk about it." She notes that "it can be [tough] to talk (or even think) about what it means to be white, when white is so deeply etched in the minds of many Americans as a synonym for 'raceless' or 'neutral.'" In fact,

        The idea that whiteness is deserving of scrutiny is unfailingly and uniquely controversial. Many fret that contemplating what it means to be white is no more than a setup to make white Americans feel "ashamed," as one disgruntled father of a teen featured in [the MTV documentary] White People complains. Others worry that this focus distracts from the plight of members of racial minority groups, or that it irresponsibly offers a new platform to old racist views, without providing sufficient context or correction. (Desmond-Harris, 2015)

        Intercultural communication scholar Gale Young (2000) compares silence around racism to silence around abuse when she describes how she came to

        understand...that the subtle rules for silence and politeness that help to maintain family secrets are the same rules as those that perpetuate the national secret [of racism]: ‘Don’t talk about messy situations that might make you look bad and get into trouble’ and ‘Don’t make the parents—whites—feel uncomfortable.’ The insidiousness of this dynamic is that those with the power to enforce the rules create the context for the rules to be internalized by the victims. Further, the inability of white America to acknowledge fully the racial abuse of the past and present is disabling for all Americans. (p. 165)

        The absence of "white"

        Race is often associated with people of color, but not with white people. The concept of race is something that's often talked about in reference to people of color, but that's not often talked about in relation to white folks.

        The fact that the adjective "white" is rarely used while "other races" are generally labeled is another example of silence. These language conventions reveal how "[m]embers of nondominant and dominant groups . . . unconsciously connect 'difference' with nondominant groups" (Allen, 2011, p. 7).

        When whiteness is un-named, this casts whiteness as the 'default' or simply 'the norm' and marks Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) as 'others' or 'different.' As Cole (2018) notes,

        The most important and consequential thing that sociologists have discovered about that it is perceived as the normal or default race in the U.S. Though the nation is racially diverse and most are aware of that, anyone who is not white is specially coded through language in a way that marks their race or ethnicity, while white people are not treated this way. "European American" or "Caucasian American" are not common phrases, but African American, Asian American, Indian American, Mexican American, etc., are. It's also common practice among white people to only specifically state the race of a person they came into contact with if that person is not white. Sociologists recognize that the way we speak about people signals that white people are "normal" Americans, while everyone else is a different kind of American that requires additional explanation.

        For anyone who is not white, that additional language and what it signifies is often forced upon and expected of them, whereas for white people, because we are seen as the norm, ethnicity is optional. It is something that we can access if we want to, and use as social or cultural capital. But, it is not required of a white American, for example, to embrace and identify with her British, Irish, Scottish, French, and Canadian heritage. It is rare that she will be asked to explain where she or her parents are from in that special way that really means, "What are you?" Her whiteness casts her as normal, as expected, and as inherently American.

        Young (2000) also makes this point when she mentions that "[m]ost white, Anglo, western European Americans in the United States don't feel their color or culture each moment" (p. 162). She describes how

        It is not uncommon for European Americans to say, "I don't have a culture," [or] "When I look in the mirror I see a human being or just a man or woman" . . . These statements are true in the sense that they mirror the emphasis that European Americans put on their experience. But what is left out of these statements is also true: that they reflect the unconscious and unearned privilege that comes with being racially similar to other members of the dominant group. Conversely, people of color in the United States are forced, at an early age, to experience the contrast between the dominant racial domain and their own. (p. 162)

        Because of this, many white people grow up never thinking or talking about whiteness. Savala Nolan, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law, describes how this can impact white people's percpeptions of themselves and feelings about whiteness below:

        White people often don’t understand that they are as “raced” as any person of color. They can see that a black person, for example, is deeply embedded in what we call “race,” and lives a life impacted at nearly all levels by race. Indeed, this idea is almost axiomatic. But they often can’t draw the same conclusion about themselves, or white supremacy, which is how they come to be raced in the first place. And they generally don’t know what to do with this new knowledge if and when they have an aha moment, except feel guilty and let that guilt push them deeper into silence. (Nolan, 2020)


        Many people claim that they 'do not see race.' They feel that ignoring race--being 'colorblind'--is egalitarian. They adopt a colorblind perspective in the belief that it's the 'right' thing to do, that not seeing race means 'treating everyone equally,' and that if we all just refused to see race then racism would go away. People also argue that talking about race is 'divisive' and 'polarizing' and therefore counter-productive.

        Unfortunately, we cannot socially construct a world in which race doesn't matter simply by not talking about it. We cannot erase hundreds of years of violent history by ignoring race today. And we cannot address racism without talking about race.

        Documentary filmmaker, director, producer, and creator of the Whiteness Project Whitney Dow agrees, arguing that

        Until you can recognize that you are living a racialized life and you’re having racialized experiences every moment of every day, you can’t actually engage people of other races around the idea of justice... Until you get to the thing that’s primary, you can’t really attack racism. (Dow, quoted in Chiariello, 2016)

        To learn more about how whiteness is communicated, complete the activities below.

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        1. Media assignment: Explore the Whiteness Project

        The Whiteness Project is an "interactive investigation into how Americans who identify as white, or partially white, understand and experience their race" (Whiteness Project, n.d.). At the Whiteness Project website, "White Millennials from Dallas, TX talk about race."

        1. Visit
        2. BEFORE you watch any videos, freewrite and/or draw for 3 minutes in response to the following question:
          • What cultural experiences, ideologies, attributes, or assumptions do you expect Millennials involved in the Whiteness Project to talk about?
        3. Watch at least THREE videos (1:00-3:00 each).
        4. AFTER you watch, journal your reaction to the videos. Pay particular attention to how ideas about whiteness and other racial membership categories were communicated in the videos you watched.

        To delve deeper, watch all the videos at

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        2. Media assignment: Watch White People

        1. Watch the MTV (2015) documentary White People (41:00) at (Click CC for captions.)
        2. While you watch, pay particular attention to
          • the different kinds of assumptions that are made about people based on their membership category affiliations
          • the ways in which others' assumptions and communication shape individuals' self-perception and interactions with others

        To delve deeper, work through "White People: A discussion guide" by Define American (n.d.).



        Allen, B. J. (2011). Difference and other important matters: Communicating social identity. Waveland Press.

        California Newsreel & Regents of the University of California. (2018-19). Episode 2: The story we tell. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

        Chiariello, E. (2016). Why talk about whiteness? Teaching Tolerance, 53. Retrieved from

        Cole, N. L. (2018). The definition of whiteness. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from

        Define American. (n.d.). White people: A discussion guide. Retrieved July 29, 2022 from

        Desmond-Harris, J. (2015). "White people have a race--but everyone flips out when we talk about it." Vox. Retreived from

        MTV. (2015). White People | Official Full Documentary | MTV [video]. YouTube. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

        Nolan, S. (2020). Black and Brown people have been protesting for centuries. It's white people who are responsible for what happens next. Time. Retrieved from

        Whiteness Project. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

        Young, G. (2000). Leonard's yard: Pulling at the roots and responsibilities of my whiteness. In M. W. Lustig & J. Koester (Eds.), Among us: Essays on identity, belonging, and intercultural competence. Pearson.



        Taking a systemic view of race

        Telescoping model of racism
        Image description: The telescoping model of racism, a graphic showing levels of communicative context with the most micro context (intrapersonal) on the left, in a circle surrounded by triangles pointing outward. Two arrows extend out and away from the circle, indicating gradual widening. To the right of "intrapersonal," labels for meso and macro contexts are listed in the following order: "interpersonal," "group," "organization," "social movement," and "global." Beneath this diagram, the following types of racism are listed, ranging from micro to macro contexts: "Prejudice" (intrapersonal), "racist interactions" (interpersonal), "segregation" (group), "hiring & wage discrimination" (organization), "interconnected social practices" (social movement and global).

        A telescoping model of racism

        Racism is a multi-tiered phenomenon. People often tend to think of racism at the level of intrapersonal communication (e.g., prejudiced beliefs or internalized oppression) and interpersonal communication (e.g., racist comments and actions), but it is also an institutional and social problem. That is, it is a problem that exists at all levels of context.

        To understand racism, we must appreciate that it's an individual, institutional, and systemic phenomenon. Racism cannot be sufficiently addressed only at micro levels. Anti-racism work must also address racism in meso and macro contexts.

        In their explainer "What is racial equity? Understanding key concepts related to race," Race Forward (n.d.)--a nonprofit racial justice organization--defines racism within two tiers: individual and systemic racism.

        Individual racism includes internalized and interpersonal racism

        Internalized racism lies within individuals. These are private beliefs and biases about race that reside inside our own minds and bodies. For White people, this can be internalized privilege, entitlement, and superiority; for people of color, this can be internalized oppression. Examples: prejudice, xenophobia, conscious and unconscious bias about race, influenced by the white supremacy.

        Interpersonal Racism occurs between individuals. Bias, bigotry, and discrimination based on race. Once we bring our private beliefs about race into our interactions with others, we are now in the interpersonal realm.  Examples: public expressions of prejudice and hate, microaggressions, bias and bigotry between individuals.

        Systemic Racism includes institutional and structural racism.

        Institutional racism occurs within institutions. It involves unjust policies, practices, procedures, and outcomes that work better for White people than people of color, whether intentional or not. Example: A school district that concentrates students of color in the most overcrowded, under-funded schools with the least experienced teachers.

        Structural racism is racial inequities across institutions, policies, social structures, history, and culture. Structural racism highlights how racism operates as a system of power with multiple interconnected, reinforcing, and self-perpetuating components which result in racial inequities across all indicators for success. Structural racism is the racial inequity that is deeply rooted and embedded in our history and culture and our economic, political, and legal systems. Examples: The “racial wealth gap,” where Whites have many times the wealth of people of color, resulting from the history and current reality of institutional racism in multiple systems.

        Goal: Build systemic awareness of race

        Thinking of racism systemically helps us to

        • Connect the dots between internalized, interpersonal, and institutional contexts and wider social spheres.
        • Understand how individual actions emerge out of group practices that emerge out of organizations and cultural contexts.
        • Understand how the present moment is connected to the past.
        • Recognize how ideas communicated media infiltrate our beliefs about ourselves.
        • Appreciate how beliefs impact and are impacted by individual actions, group dynamics, culture, and history.

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        Media assignment: Watch "Moving the race conversation forward"

        1. Visit to watch Race Forward's (2014a) video on how US media frequently falls into the trap of individualizing race, a finding from their 2014 report analyzing 1200 articles from major news outlets (Race Forward, 2014b). (Click CC for captions. Video transcript attached below.)
        2. WHILE you watch, take notes on
          • why individualizing race is a problem
          • examples of systemic racism

        To delve deeper, watch Race Forward's (2016) video playlist "What is systemic racism?"



        Race Forward. (n.d.). What is racial equity? Understanding key concepts related to race. Retrieved on July 29, 2022 from

        Race Forward. (2014a). Moving the race conversation forward [video]. YouTube. Retrieved July 29, 2022 from

        Race Forward. (2014b). Moving the race conversation forward. Retrieved July 29, 2022 from

        Race Forward. (2016). What is systemic racism? [video playlist]. YouTube. Retrieved July 29, 2022 from

        Talk about race

        Grumpy Cat against racism sticker
        Image description: A sticker showing a circular photo of Grumpy Cat surrounded by the words "Grumpy Cat against racism" pasted to a dirty orange telephone handle on a stickered pole on a city street. "GRUMPY CAT AGAINST RACISM" by foxgrrl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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        Talk about race

        Follow the steps below to have conversations about race.

        1Set groundrules & intentions & check in.

        1. Consider the five steps to having effective conversations about race outlined by racial justice and mindfulness mentor Amanda Kemp (2017) in her book Say the wrong thing: Stories and strategies for racial justice and authentic community. She advises that people who want to talk about race do the following:
          1. Check in with yourself first: How do you feel? What are your intentions?
          2. Find your center and ground your intentions in unconditional love.
          3. Listen to the other person.
          4. Then offer the question, "Would you like to hear what it's like for me?"
          5. After the conversation is over, check in with yourself. What do you need?
        2. Revisit Allen's (2014) guidelines for interaction.
        3. Recall Oluo's (2018) advice about broaching conversations about race. She recommends
          1. starting by finding out the other person's comfort level, if they want to talk about race or not, and
          2. stating why it is you want to talk about race.
          3. Journal for at least 10 minutes in response to the following questions:
            1. What guidelines do you think are most important and/or helpful for conversations about race?
            2. Do you want to talk about race? Why and/or why not?

          2Talk about race with a friend or family member.

          1. Before you reach out to a friend or family member to talk about race, check in with yourself: What are your intentions?
          2. Ask a friend or family member if they are willing to talk about race with you and tell them why you want to talk about race. Keep asking different people (No pressure!) until you find someone who is.
          3. Talk about race with your conversation partner. Some suggested topics are provided below.
            1. Discuss something related to this anti-racism module
            2. Reflect on how talking about race, racism, and/or whiteness makes you feel
            3. Explain your view on colorblindness with regard to race
            4. Recall a memory in which your race was relevant and how that felt
            5. Consider where you feel most or least empowered to fight racism
          4. Follow the conversation where it leads you, but be sure to check in with your partner and yourself periodically to make sure everyone is still comfortable in the conversation and wants to continue.
          5. BONUS activity: Complete this anti-racism module with a friend or group. Then talk about race together.

          3Challenge racism.

          Challenge yourself to challenge racism within your spheres of influence, that is, the contexts in which you have some power to affect others and events. These contexts include interactions with yourself, friends, and family; social/school/work connections; wider communities; and greater society.

          Consider the following strategies for challenging racism. What others might you add?

          • Learn about race and racism.
          • Talk about race and racism.
          • Engage in critical self reflection. Examine your own beliefs about membership categories and consider where they came from.
          • If someone makes a racist comment, ask them what they mean. Get them to say the quiet part out loud.
          • Name racism when you see it.
          • Learn about rules, policies, and laws that disproportionately impact people in nondominant identity categories. Support leaders who change these inequities for the better.
          • Advocate for institutional and social change to change racist rules, policies, and laws.
          • Identify individuals and groups who are doing anti-racism work and work with them.
          • Welcome feedback and use it for growth.

          To delve deeper, work through How to write an anti-racism action plan: A self-paced guidebook (Taneja & Catlett, n.d.).



          Allen, B. J. (2014). Guidelines for interaction. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

          Kemp, A. (2017). Say the wrong thing: Stories and strategies for racial justice and authentic community. CreateSpace.

          Talks at Google. (2018, Feb. 18). Ijeoma Oluo | So you want to talk about race | Talks at Google [video]. YouTube. Retrieved July 28, 2022 from

          Taneja, A. & Catlett, K. (n.d.). How to write an anti-racism action plan: A self-paced guidebook. College of the Holy Cross Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Retrieved August 1, 2022 from